30/07/2001

Farmers given go-ahead to resume livestock sales

Northern Irish farmers have been given the go-ahead to resume live sales of cattle and pigs following the gradual relaxation of the restrictions surrounding foot-and-mouth disease.

Monday 30 July sees the resumption of livestock markets throughout the country, as the latest in a series of steps towards the complete lifting of precautions designed to limit the spread of the contagious disease.

So far, the only livestock sales performed in the province have been via video link-ups, which removed the necessity to gather animals in one place, removing the risk of cross-contamination.

However, describing the existing ban on the sale of non-pedigree sheep as detrimental to farmers ‘trying to earn a living’, DUP leader and Chair of the Agriculture Committee Dr Ian Paisley said he had written to Agriculture Minister Brid Rodgers, presenting the case for the resumption of the sale of all types of sheep. He warned that to delay action on the issue would irrevocably disrupt the farming calendar, and would have serious consequences on breeding stock.

Relaxation of foot-and-mouth restrictions has meant that farmers have been allowed to move sheep to common grazing for the past month, with sales of pedigree sheep to resume from July 30. The resumption of general sheep sales will be reviewed towards the end of August. (CL)

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