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Do Not Become Complacent About Bluetongue

27 April 2010

NORTHERN IRELAND, UK - Minister Michelle Gildernew was warning farmers not to become complacent about bluetongue, highlighting the risks of importing cattle or sheep which may have been exposed to the bluetongue virus.

The Minister's message comes as we move into the higher risk period when the midges that spread the virus are most active.

Outlining her concerns, the Minister said: "Complacency will be our biggest enemy this year in the fight to retain Bluetongue Free status. Even though vaccination appears to be working in countries that have Bluetongue, until the disease is eradicated there continues to be a risk from importing animals from these affected areas. I would again urge those who may consider importing cattle and sheep from bluetongue affected areas, to think extremely carefully and consider the potential consequences of bringing Bluetongue here.

“I have highlighted on a number of occasions the devastating economic effect an outbreak of Bluetongue would have on our local industry. The majority of the farming community have heeded that warning but there are still some who will put their own interests before the rest of the industry. I acknowledge that farmers may consider importing breeding cattle and sheep to improve the quality of stock, but I urge them to weigh any potential benefit against the risk posed by importing Bluetongue. They should consider other safer options such as import of semen or embryos.”

The Minister concluded: “My message has not changed, we need to keep Bluetongue out and do whatever is necessary to make that possible. Every farmer has a responsibility to heed my appeal and the appeals from farming unions. Do not put your own farm business, and the industry at risk, by importing livestock from Bluetongue affected areas.”

DARD continues to have regular contact with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Dublin to ensure that measures, throughout the island, are appropriate and are sufficient to protect the bluetongue free status of the whole island.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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