The UFU has urged farmers in Great Britain, who usually sell sheep to Northern Ireland buyers, to apply for the new scrapie monitoring ‘qualifying status’.
Its deputy president David Brown, explained that once GB farmers do so, they will immediately gain the new ‘qualifying status’. This will allow them to export sheep to NI.
He explained that once the “fast approaching” deadline of December 31st, 2021, passes, farmers cannot get immediate qualifying status for scrapie monitoring.
This, he added, means flock owners in Britain cannot sell to Northern Ireland.
He explained the implications missing the deadline will have for GB farmers.
“If the GB seller misses this deadline, it takes at least three years on the scrapie monitoring programme to achieve ‘controlled risk status’ which would allow them to export to NI.”
The farmers who successfully obtain the scrapie monitoring qualifying status will have to comply with scrapie monitoring status rules.
“Around 9,000 sheep move annually from GB to NI. Since the NI Protocol came into effect, only a very small number of sheep have come from GB into NI.”
He said the new qualifying status granted to GB flock owners is an amendment to existing EU trade rules to allow sheep imports into the EU single market, including NI, without full scrapie monitoring status.
“Hopefully, it will allow more NI farmers to purchase sheep from GB. However, they must come from the farm where they were born,” he added.
Edward Adamson National Sheep Association NI regional manager said:
“The scrapie qualifying status will bring some relief to commercial sheep farmers.”
“However, time is of the essence, and all those involved need to have joined by the end of the year.”
“Unfortunately for elite pedigree breeders with high value breeding livestock, UK governments lack urgency in putting health certificates in place to allow animals to return to NI from sales in GB and are slow to work with livestock markets on eligible export sales.”