Northern Ireland (NI) Agriculture Minister, Edwin Poots has voiced his concerns about some requirements relating to the movement of livestock between Britain and Northern Ireland.

The minister said that the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has been working with farmers' unions, market operators and other stakeholders to facilitate the movement of animals.

He said that the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) are also working with traders, exporting markets and sales in Britain to put the necessary arrangements in place to support the movement of cattle and sheep.

Livestock

Minister Poots said that his department and DEFRA have been liaising with the EU Commission to introduce changes to existing EU legislation to make these movements possible.

A new Export Health Certificate (EHC) is now available for the return to Northern Ireland of cattle, sheep and goats which originate in NI and are moved to Britain for an approved show or sale.

“The movement of animals between Great Britain and Northern Ireland has been subject to conditions for many years. Import controls are important to maintain our high health status, preserve export markets and support industry.

It is important for breeders of top genetic merit animals in NI to retain access to markets both in the UK and in Europe. The new arrangements will achieve this objective.

“I am pleased to note the efforts being taken by the livestock industry across the UK and notably sales organisers, to welcome livestock from Northern Ireland and to improve biosecurity for all the animals which attend these events.

"Purchasers can buy with greater confidence and if animals remain unsold they can be returned to their premises of origin without impediment," Minister Poots said.

Concerns

The minister did sound a note of caution in relation to certain requirements, including the segregation of NI animals during a show/sale in Britain.

I am, however, concerned with the requirements for segregation and separation, as I believe that they will not work in practice. I am also opposed to the retagging requirements for animals moving from GB to NI, which go against traceability.

“As DAERA Minister, I have ensured pragmatic approaches to the unprecedented challenges which we have faced over the past year and I can assure the farming community that I will continue to do so and to press the UK government and the EU to find solutions which work on the ground,” Poots concluded.