Pre-movement Brucellosis testing on both sides of the Border will come to an end on September 28 following a joint announcement by Minister Simon Coveney and Minister Michelle O’Neill at the Ploughing Championships.

Speaking at the National Ploughing Championships, Coveney said that following the effective eradication of Brucellosis on the island, both departments had decided to remove the legislative requirement for pre-movement testing.

“The cessation of compulsory pre-movement testing means that routine on-farm brucellosis testing will no longer be required in the State,” said Coveney.

This, he said, is a major landmark in the history of disease eradication in Ireland and will result in significant savings for livestock farmers in testing costs, estimated to be €6m per year.

“I warmly welcome the fact that we can now bring to an end the legislative requirement for routine on-farm testing for Brucellosis.

“This is a major boost for Irish farmers and is the product of efforts put in jointly by my Department, the veterinary profession and by the farming community over many years in addressing this highly contagious and costly disease,” said Coveney.

According to Coveney, the Department of Agriculture have taken a cautious approach to the phasing out of Brucellosis testing since Brucellosis free status was first achieved in 2009.

“There has been no Brucellosis outbreak in the national herd since 2006 and none in Northern Ireland since 2012, it is now appropriate to end all routine compulsory on-farm testing in this part of the island”.

However, this disease will remain as a compulsorily notifiable disease in the Republic, and the Department will continue with appropriate monitoring measures for Brucellosis.

These measures include testing culled cows at slaughter plants, aborted foetuses sent to regional veterinary Laboratories and post-abortion blood samples at no cost to farmers, said Minister Coveney.

Coveney added that farmers have apart to play in the early detection of this disease and should continue to submit all aborted fetuses, if available, to the regional veterinary labs.

Minister Coveney said that he was delighted that Northern Ireland, having been free from Brucellosis for over three years, has been granted officially Brucellosis free status and is also moving to scale down Brucellosis testing.

“This is significant in the context of North/South co-operation on animal health issues and was a major factor in his decision to discontinue pre-movement testing here”.

Minister O’Neill added that the North has now followed Ireland and has received OBF status, this essentially means that both districts can move in tandem to remove pre-movement testing.

However, Minister Coveney added that it is vital that Irish farmers remain aware to this disease and it’s symptoms.

“It is vital that we identify and prevent any outbreak of this disease and I would ask farmers to continue to be vigilant in sourcing cattle from reputable outlets.

Furthermore, notwithstanding the removal of the legislative requirement to test, famers should ensure that they have appropriate and proportionate bio-security arrangements in place with regard to animals introduced into their herds.”