29 August 2001
Northern Ireland resumes sheep sales
By FWi staff
NORTHERN IRELAND has been given the go-ahead to hold commercial sheep sales from Monday (3 September).
The decision marks a return to near normality since the provinces four outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease last spring.
Blood testing of over 430,000 sheep has shown no signs of the virus.
I am prepared to allow sales to resume under strict conditions, said Northern Ireland agriculture minister Brid Rodgers.
Sheep sales will only be allowed under the supervision of department of agriculture officials and must be on approved premises.
All stock must be correctly identified and have a specific movement licence. Markets may not be used by any other livestock species on the same day.
Mrs Rodgers added that farm to farm collections would also be permitted again, though hauliers would have to be specifically licensed.
The 20-day movement standstill on all species moving to new farms is being retained, however, in order to limit the spread of any disease which might occur.
The move was welcomed by the Ulster Farmers Union, which has been lobbying hard for a resumption of sheep sales.
This is a significant step forward, said UFU president Douglas Rowe.
Obviously the threat of foot-and-mouth is still very real with the ongoing cases in Great Britain, so the industry must take all necessary precautions.