The first stage of the Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) is now set to launch on Monday, September 4, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has confirmed.

The NIFAIS will replace the existing Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS), which has been in operation since 1998. 

While the data is being transferred between the systems there will be a reduction in tuberculosis (TB) testing to reduce the risk of data loss or corruption.

The reductions are as follows:

  • Week commencing August 21: only Reactor Herd tests will be tested on the Monday and results read on the Thursday;
  • Week commencing August 28: no testing;
  • Week commencing September 4: no TB testing to commence on Monday. Only Reactor herd testing Tuesday – Saturday.

DAERA is urging herd keepers, whose compulsory TB tests fall within this period, to contact their vet now to arrange an alternative date to ensure they avoid going overdue, as restrictions will be imposed.

This testing restriction period will be taken into account in any assessments for breaches of the Cross Compliance requirements for TB testing, however it remains the herd keeper’s responsibility to comply with TB testing requirements irrespective of these arrangements.

All tests can be started 30 days in advance of their due date, and it may be possible to arrange some non-reactor herd tests even earlier than this, if agreed with DAERA.

There may also be a short delay in the removal of reactors due to a reduction in the processing of valuations on APHIS and the generation of movement licences, but DAERA said any disruption will be kept to a minimum and reactors must remain isolated until removed.

It will still be possible to export animals during the three-week period, but again, exporters are advised to plan ahead with their vet ensure any required tests are completed in time and prior to the restriction period.

Tag suppliers will have restricted access to NIFAIS during the weekend of September 23-, so tag orders should be places in advance of this date if needed.

The NIFAIS was originally supposed to launch on June 12, but was postponed as further testing and integration with IT systems was needed.