Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, MLA, has reiterated the need for the UK and EU to make urgent progress on the issue of veterinary medicines supply from Great Britain (GB) to Northern Ireland (NI).
Data from industry suggests that 51% of veterinary medicines would be discontinued in NI if Protocol requirements are applied.
Minister Poots stated: "I find this matter most disconcerting, particularly as it affects some critical products such as cardiovascular medicines, anaesthetics and vaccines, including those that prevent salmonella and E. coli. The discontinuation of vaccines in NI would have severe repercussions for animal health and welfare here and give rise to unnecessary animal suffering, not to mention the risk it would present to human health and trade.
"I have stated on many occasions that it is completely unacceptable that the Protocol would prevent NI from having access to the same veterinary medicines as other parts of the UK. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that all possible steps are taken to prevent suppliers from withdrawing or reducing the range of products available in NI and protect the availability of medicines here."
Minister Poots added: "While I acknowledge the EU recognition of the current agreed grace period in relation to these moves, that recognition only extends to the end of this year so is simply not enough. Industry needs certainty and there must be no barriers put in place that would risk the health and welfare of animals in Northern Ireland. I am also concerned about the additional burden our industry would face if it had to meet all the additional EU requirements for the movement of veterinary medicines to NI when they are simply not necessary.
"I note that talks between the UK and EU on this matter have stalled. I, therefore, recently wrote to both the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the European Commission calling for urgent action to find a sensible, permanent and pragmatic solution to the matter. If an agreed solution is not possible, I have also urged the Secretary of State to take any measures at his disposal, including the exercise of any powers that may be available to him under the NI Protocol Bill, to ensure that the disturbing picture painted by industry does not become a reality and that the welfare of animals here is not needlessly but at risk."