The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s announcement that the brucellosis testing regime is to be reduced has been welcomed by the BVA and BVA Northern Ireland Branch.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has announced the brucellosis testing regime will be reduced.

As Northern Ireland awaits the EU’s response to the application for the country to be declared officially brucellosis free (OBF), both BVA and BVA Northern Ireland Branch see this as testament to the hard work of farmers and local vets in eradicating this disease from Northern Ireland.

However, BVA and BVA Northern Ireland Branch also cautioned there was no room for complacency from anyone involved in the health and welfare of livestock, particularly where biosecurity and disease surveillance are concerned.

BVA president John Blackwell said: “We welcome this move and congratulate our colleagues in Northern Ireland for their part in achieving another milestone on the road to OBF status. This has taken real and effective partnerships between vets, farmers and government. However, as the recent example of the identification of suspected BSE in a cow in the Republic of Ireland shows, vets and farmers need to be ever vigilant against the incursion of disease. Now is not the time to be lax in that vigilance, along with ensuring all the correct biosecurity measures are in place.”

BVA Northern Ireland Branch president Simon Doherty said: “This is good news for everyone working with livestock in Northern Ireland and will deliver substantial savings and reduced sampling and testing costs for farmers. “But vets in Northern Ireland also know two areas in which no one can afford to spare resource are surveillance and biosecurity.

“We strongly support chief veterinary officer Robert Huey’s comments about the importance of continuing to report abortions or any suspicion of brucellosis and the need for farmers to keep up the excellent standards of biosecurity they have achieved. Local vets in Northern Ireland will continue to work with farmers to maintain those standards and to ensure disease surveillance as well,” he added.

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