He again raised the pending crisis of a block on veterinary medicines.
The DUP MP said, “There is an existential threat facing veterinary and food industry in Northern Ireland, exacerbated by the failure of the Windsor Framework to deal with veterinary medicines.
I had a positive discussion with the director of Food Standards Agency about the need for them to take up the case on behalf of Northern Ireland vets and ensure medicines currently available in NI remain available without any threat to their use.
We have just come through a very difficult strike in the industry and little thought was given to farmers, animal welfare or meat processors as well as all the industry around it in terms of haulage and port management. Whilst no one noticed any food shortages what wasn’t seen was the heavy strain placed upon the industry. Many hundreds of people could not work at full capacity and much money has been lost to this vital industry.
Securing sufficient veterinary resources to manage inspections in processing plants is being hampered by a shortage of veterinarians entering the profession, an increase leaving the profession and challenges in recruiting additional veterinary professionals from other countries.
I invited the minister to NI and to see the issue for himself and I appealed to them both to help us unlock the threat to veterinary medicine in NI.”
Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart added, “I raised the issue of veterinary medicines with the Secretary of State last week at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. I highlighted the fact that at an estimation there will be 1700 veterinary medicines unavailable to Northern Ireland and the impact this would have on animal health and bio security. There has been a distinct lack of impetus to get this issue resolved and I urged the Government to be cognisant of the magnitude of the issue and the lack of communication to stakeholders on this matter.
This issue can’t be ignored and it is vital there is a permanent solution to an issue that would have massive ramifications for livestock production in Northern Ireland.”