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IFA Calls for Immediate Import Suspension

26 March 2009

IRELAND - The Irish Farmers' Aassociation (IFA) Deputy President Derek Deane said Ireland is now facing into yet another high-risk period for Bluetongue transmission since the identification of the virus in Northern Europe for the first time in August 2006.

Mr Deane said the threat to our animal health status increased significantly with the detection of Bluetongue in the UK in September 2007.

The IFA Deputy President said Ireland remains the only country not directly affected by the virus and it is vital that all steps are taken to prevent its introduction into this country.

Since this Bluetongue virus has been identified, and particularly since the outbreak was detected in the UK, IFA has consistently called for increased precautions to be taken with unsusceptible high-risk cargo. To date, the Department of Agriculture has failed to implement any bio-security measures at the entry points into this country.

Derek Deane said following an intensive joint IFA/UFA campaign in early 2008, the authorities implemented an all-island importation ban for all susceptible animals unless they had been vaccinated for Bluetongue virus 8.

“With the emergence of new strains of Bluetongue in Northern Europe, the current controls are inadequate. Until we have a clear understanding of all transmission routes of all strains, and vaccines for these emerging strains, a suspension of the importation of all susceptible animals must be put in place immediately.”

The repercussions of a Bluetongue outbreak on this island would be a disaster for Irish farming. Mr Deane said the experience in other countries is one of massive disruption to trade, serious production losses and the huge cost to both farmers, member states and the EU of vaccination programmes. He strongly advised farmers not to risk the health of the national herd by importing from Bluetongue-restricted areas.


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