The launch of the latest stage of the Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS), a key traceability and animal disease control system, has been postponed.

Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) today (Friday, June 9) citing a need for “further testing and integration with industry IT systems” as the reason for the postponement.

The latest stage of the system was set to launch on Monday (June 12), but will now be delayed by “a number of months”.

DAERA had enforced a reduction of on-farm bovine tuberculosis (bTB) testing as a result of the migration of data to NIFAIS.

This reduction in testing has been in place since May 29, and was due to stay in place until June 17.

However, as a result of the new system being postponed, this reduction in testing is being “immediately revoked”.

On-farm TB testing of all test-types can now be arranged with private vets or DAERA staff.

The department apologised for the inconvenience caused by the delay of the NIFAIS launch, and said it will communicate a new launch date to all stakeholders when it is agreed.

“This will not be before July 2023, as time is needed to introduce a further TB testing pause around the new date,” DAERA said.

It added that NIFAIS is an important animal disease and traceability system that will underpin the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.

“It is important that all users are satisfied that they can interact fully with it to deliver for farmers and customers,” the department said.

“This interaction includes development of IT systems that will consume or send data back to NIFAIS.

“A short delay will allow all users to confirm their systems are fully integrated and that they have the assurance necessary around traceability of local products.”