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Minister Coughlan notes new FMD decision

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today noted the unanimous agreement of the EU Commission Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) to significantly modify the restrictions imposed in the immediate aftermath of confirmation to two cases of foot-and-mouth disease earlier this month.

Minister Coughlan said that today's Decision, which had Ireland's support, was a very strong indication of a return to normality following this outbreak, which the Minister described as a very worrying time for the entire Irish agricultural industry.

The Minister said that the Decision reflected the expeditious and effective manner in which the UK authorities had responded to the outbreak and to the way in which it had been contained. Minister Coughlan said that it was important that a balance be struck between ensuring that any remaining threat had been eliminated and the need to return to normal trading conditions as soon as possible and said that she was satisfied that today's Decision struck that balance.

The Decision, which reduces the area from which the export of live animals and meat and dairy products will continue to be banned to a 10km zone around the premises on which the two cases were confirmed, will facilitate the export from Great Britain (other than from within the existing Protection and Surveillance zones) of live animals and animal products, with appropriate certification and, in the case of live animals, advance notice. It will also facilitate the exportation to GB of live animals within a matter of days. The certification controls introduced for the movement of horses to and from Britain will also be lifted.

The remaining restrictions, including the strict controls and veterinary supervision under which trade of live animals and animal products may recommence, will remain in place until 15 September.

Minister Coughlan said that a particular focus of her Department's efforts over the past fortnight, since the original certification requirements were introduced for Northern Ireland animals and products, had been on ensuring that normal north/south trade continued to be facilitated.

23 August 2007

Date Released: 23 August 2007