Imports of all ruminant livestock from France to the UK have been postponed, according to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

A document published on the Defra website dated October 4, 2023, outlines that the “trade of live ruminants from France is postponed as they [France] are no longer able to comply with relevant animal health certificates”.

The postponement of ruminant livestock imports comes following the confirmation of Epizootic Haemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in France.

On September 21, the presence of EHD was officially reported in France. Since then, the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty (MASA) has confirmed a total of 19 outbreaks of EHD, primarily in Pyrenees-Atlantiques and neighbouring municipalities.

As of October 4 of this year, the EU Animal Diseases Information System (ADIS) has reported 50 new outbreaks in Spain and 17 in Portugal.

According to Defra, the confirmation of EHD in southern France “is significant because now that EHD has crossed the Pyrenees mountains, there is greater potential for spread across mainland Europe towards Great Britain”.

The UK’s Defra considers the risk of introduction of EHD into Great Britain via movement of
live animals and/or vectors to be “negligible” but said in a statement it will “continue to monitor the situation”.

There have been consignments of live cattle and sheep scheduled to arrive in Great
Britain from France in recent weeks but Defra has confirmed that back-tracing is being conducted to identify any consignments of live ruminants and ruminant germplasm from France over the past 28 days.

Meanwhile in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) has urged farmers, veterinary practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to “remain vigilant” for EHD following the confirmation of the disease on three farms in France.

As a result of the EHD outbreak in southern France, a number of French cattle were unable to attend the French livestock show, Sommet de l’Elevage, last week due to concerns surrounding the virus.