Vet bodies welcome return of Stormont as Muir takes on DAERA

Vet bodies welcome return of Stormont as Muir takes on DAERA

The North of Ireland Veterinary Association and British Veterinary Association have welcomed the return of the Executive to  Stormont and called on politicians to urgently make decisions that have neglected in the two years when the Assembly was not sitting.

The associations are concerned that the absence of a NI Government over the last two years has meant many important decisions about key animal health issues, such as the control of bovine TB, BVD eradication and regulation of farriers, have not been taken.

In addition, while progress has been made, a permanent solution is yet to be agreed to ensure continued access to veterinary medicines in NI when the current grace period expires at the end of 2025.

NIVA President and BVA NI Branch President Esther Skelly-Smith said: “There are several major issues that need a ministerial decision. NIVA and BVA plan to engage with Minister Muir as soon as practical on issues such as the TB eradication programme, the need for revised animal welfare policy, the role of the veterinary profession and animal welfare in sustainable agri-food production, and the need for regulation of farriers.

“We are also keen to engage with our local Executive urgently to secure its input on the important issue of access to veterinary medicines following the UK Government’s announcement that a new Veterinary Medicines Working Group will seek to resolve the issue. We want to work with the new Executive to see decisions made locally to protect the health and welfare of our animals and support the veterinary profession, in order to develop our economy for the benefit of both people and animals in Northern Ireland. We very much look forward to positive engagement with our Assembly.”

The man charged with dealing with a heaving inbox at the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs  is Alliance MLA Andrew Muir.

Speaking after his appointment was confirmed he said: “DAERA has an extensive and diverse portfolio, which impacts upon us all, including responsibility for protecting and improving our natural environment; farming and food production; animal and plant health; fishing and forest regeneration.  It also plays a crucial role in supporting our rural communities.

“I plan to focus on the full remit of the department, seeking to implement policies and strategies that benefit our climate and environment, while supporting our economically and socially significant agriculture, food and fisheries sectors alongside our important rural communities. I intend to listen to, engage and strive to work with stakeholders and partners in every part of Northern Ireland including North / South and East and West. Together, we can achieve a lot.

“I also want to reassure our farming and fishing communities of my commitment to working with them as they take the steps needed to reduce their carbon footprint and supporting them to enhance the natural and marine environment that I know they care so deeply about. I passionately believe that, working in partnership, we can deliver real improvement while also promoting economic resilience, financial sustainability and a responsive supply chain. This sector is of paramount importance to our economy, food security and of course, will be critical in helping us to achieve our environmental obligations.

“There are so many other challenges that I know I will need to address, not least the devastating impact of bovine TB on our farms and economy.”