Vets are a vital part of the agri-food industry - McIlveen

Date published: 24 November 2016

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen has highlighted the importance of the veterinary profession in Northern Ireland.

Miss McIlveen said: “Vets play a key role across the agri-food industry, not to mention in the day-to-day workings of livestock farms across Northern Ireland. Tonight I take the opportunity to recognise and highlight that contribution.

“From disease surveillance and detection to veterinary certification of exports, from academic research to the health and welfare of the animals on individual farms, vets have a unique role to play.”

The Minister was speaking at the British Veterinary Association (BVA) Northern Ireland dinner, which took place Parliament Buildings.

Miss McIlveen commended the local industry partnership Animal Health & Welfare Northern Ireland, in the progress they are making in taking forward the eradication of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD). 

The Minister said: “With this in mind, I would like to do more to encourage farmers to remove Persistently BVD-Infected animals as quickly as possible from herds and thereby reduce the impact of this production disease on dairy and suckler farmers in these very difficult financial times. We know that prompt removal of these highly infectious animals is one of the most important elements in the control of BVD.”

Earlier, the Minister met representatives from the BVA, including the recently-appointed President Gudrun Ravetz and Seamus O’Kane, Northern Ireland Branch President. "The BVA is the national representative body for the veterinary profession in the UK."

The Minister said: “I appreciate the constructive working relationship that exists between the BVA and my Department. I recognise the importance to the BVA of research, disease surveillance and cross–border trade.

“I am particularly pleased that my Department has been able to find a way to keep the delivery of bovine TB testing services centred in local communities. 

“This means we can utilise the valuable resource which the private veterinary sector provides, in a strategic manner that delivers a high quality product to the Department and industry, and offers good value to the tax-payer.

“The involvement of so many of our local practices also means we have been able to maintain vital animal health and welfare services to the benefit of local farmers; and equally importantly, maintain a disease surveillance capacity on livestock farms of all species, large and small, across Northern Ireland.

“I have also been made aware of issues facing the profession such as the challenges in recruiting and retaining veterinary staff, and concerns around antimicrobial resistance, Brexit, and the implementation of animal welfare.  I am hopeful that these can be addressed as we move forward together.” 

Notes to editors: 

  1. Photo caption - Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen meets representatives of the British Veterinary Association ahead of the organisation’s Northern Ireland dinner (24 November 2016). l-r BVA past president Sean Wensley, BVA president Gudrun Ravetz, Minister Michelle McIlveen, senior vice-president Dr Simon Doherty, Northern Ireland Branch president Seamus O'Kane and divisional veterinary officer Jean Wales.
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