Poots announces new Brucellosis protocol for Northern Ireland

A new surveillance protocol for Brucellosis will benefit farmers and industry, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has said.

The revised surveillance protocol will help NI retain its Officially Brucellosis Free (OBF) status and will result in the cessation of routine testing for all herds that have had a Brucellosis test completed within the past five years.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots said: “Following the attainment of OBF status by Northern Ireland in October 2015, farmers here have been able to benefit from a less onerous testing programme over the last five years.

“This has been very much welcomed by all who have worked so hard to eradicate Brucellosis and attain OBF status.

DAERA veterinary officers recently conducted a veterinary risk assessment of the required levels of surveillance for Brucellosis in the Northern Ireland bovine population post-October 2020.

“As a result of this assessment I have agreed to the implementation of a revised surveillance protocol to secure maintenance of our OBF status.

“This will mean that routine testing will now cease for all herds that have had a Brucellosis test completed within the past five years.

“This revised surveillance protocol, with its effective ending of routine Brucellosis testing, will contribute to the ongoing positive landscape for Brucellosis controls and bring further related savings for farmers, the industry, taxpayers and DAERA.”

‘We must not relax our attitude’

The minister urged farmers to continue to comply with ongoing surveillance measures and practice good biosecurity.

He added: “Whilst we are now effectively seeing the end of routine Brucellosis testing, we must not relax our attitude to the reporting of abortions, stillbirths and calves dying within 24 hours of birth or any other suspicion of Brucellosis.

“It is crucial that we continue to stay free of this highly infectious disease. Stakeholder cooperation has been instrumental in bringing us to this stage and farmers must continue to keep up their efforts to achieve excellent biosecurity standards and adopt appropriate stock replacement policies.”