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Smith Welcomes Official Brucellosis Free Status for Ireland

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Brendan Smith TD, today confirmed that the EU Commission has approved Ireland's application for official brucellosis free status.

As a result of this decision, and having consulted with the farm organisations, the Minister said that he had decided, based on risk assessment, to commence a controlled reduction in the brucellosis eradication programme over a period of years.

Minister Smith said "there would be an increase in the period of the pre-movement test from 30 to 60 days, while the age threshold for round testing will be increased to 24 months.  However, in view of the greater risk attached to the movement, particularly the movement of breeding animals, the age limit for the pre-movement test will be retained at 12 months except in the case of bulls, for which the age limit is being increased to 18 months, given the lower risk of transmitting the disease."  The Minister said that the new arrangements would be implemented as soon as possible after the publication of the Commission Decision and the necessary amendments are made to national legislation.

Minister Smith described securing official brucellosis free status as "a landmark in the history of disease eradication in Ireland", and said that this success was due to a number of factors, not least the full cooperation of all the stakeholders in the eradication regime.

The Minister said that he was very conscious that the disease had brought considerable distress to the farming community and, in particular, individual farmers and said that today's announcement would have a very beneficial impact on the farming community in the years to come, particularly in relation to trade and the cost of testing.

Minister Smith said, "Despite today's very welcome development, there was no room for complacency.  It is essential that farmers continue to adopt appropriate replacement policies and effective bio-security measures.  Farmers should only buy-in replacement stock, including young female stock, from known sources."  The Minister warned that some calves and young female stock can carry brucellosis without showing any signs and without it showing up in blood tests until they calve or abort later in the herd.

Concluding, the Minister said, "The attainment of official brucellosis free status is a major achievement.  Ireland must continue to build on its high animal health status, with benefits for all concerned, in terms of on-farm costs, Exchequer contribution, public health and international reputation."

 

Date Released: 01 July 2009