Minister Addresses BVA As Disease Takes Centre Stage

IRELAND - The Northern Irish Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA has addressed the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
calendar icon 23 November 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

The BVA is the main representative body for veterinary surgeons in the UK.

Speaking after the dinner, the Minister said: "I welcomed the opportunity to address the BVA as the first local Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development since 2001.

"Our farming community, with the support of its veterinary profession, face many challenges in particular around animal disease.

"During the past three months we have experienced foot and mouth disease, bluetongue and avian flu outbreaks in Britain.

"The presence of a local Minister meant that we had the power to take prompt and effective action to prevent the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Britain reaching the North. Local decision making also minimised the potentially disastrous effect these diseases could have had on our industry. And, with the help of my executive colleagues, minimise the effects on trade.

"Work on bluetongue and avian flu is ongoing, but our ability to make our own decisions, with the support of stakeholders, is invaluable."

"Progress on bovine tuberculosis is also being made and we have been reducing the incidence of this disease over the past few years." The Minister continued, "I mentioned in my speech that I am keen to make progress on the All Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.

The aim of this strategy is ultimately to allow free movement of animals on the island of Ireland, which will reduce the costs of this trade to our Industry and potentially open up more markets to farmers for their animals and produce."

In relation to the Rural Development Programme the Minister said: "Vets are also part of the rural community and work closely with the farming community which is going through a period of change. The new £500 million Rural Development Programme will help farmers to improve their competitiveness and modernise their farms. It will also assist farm families look at valid options for their future through mentoring, training and re-skilling, schemes and through village renewal."

In conclusion the minister was very encouraged by the obvious enthusiasm of the veterinary profession to engage with industry and government. The minister recognised the commitment of vets and their valuable contribution to the farming community.

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