The North of Ireland Veterinary Association (NIVA) and the NI Branch of the British Veterinary Association (BVA-NI) have discussed current issues that threaten animal health and welfare in Northern Ireland.

Joint NIVA and BVA-NI president, Sharon Verner, outlined the concerns of veterinary surgeons and the need for an animal health and welfare strategy in NI.

Verner discussed the need for a permanent solution to be found to secure access to a full range of veterinary medicines in NI after December 2025 at this year’s Balmoral Show.

The concerns follow the Veterinary Medicines Directorate estimating that the supply of around 50% of veterinary medicines will be affected, impacting all livestock sectors in NI.

The associations fear that this poses an “unacceptable risk of harm” to animal health and welfare in NI and are aware that any loss of access could also have “serious ramifications” for the Republic of Ireland.

Verner called for resources to be made available to livestock health schemes in NI, to allow a “long overdue focus” on endemic diseases such as bovine TB.

(L-r) Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Andrew Muir and Alexander Kinnear Source: NIVA and BVA NI

The NIVA said that the “optimal achievement” of the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs’ (DAERA’s) objectives will only be possible where “coordinated” efforts are made to improve animal health and welfare.

“I know that from where we stand today, many of the challenges seem daunting, however, I am optimistic that if we focus on finding solutions to the challenges that we will think bigger in growing our agri-food industry,” the president added.

NIVA senior vice-president, Esther Skelly-Smith, will shortly publish its “top priorities” for equine welfare in Northern Ireland, which will call for important changes.