NI Brexit protocol: Northern Irish cattle can travel to shows in Great Britain – but cannot come back afterwards says Ulster Farmers’ Union

A senior member of the UFU has given a small flavour of the “ludicrous” situation created by the post-Brexit rules.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:00 am
David Brown

The union’s deputy president David Brown gave evidence to the Stormont finance committee yesterday on the headaches caused by new rules which hamper the movement of goods (in this case animals) from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

He said for example that when it comes to pedigree cattle, many Ulster breeders traditionally travel to big Welsh, Scottish or English shows to exhibit livestock.

But the new rules mean “any animals coming from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would have to have a six month residence period”.

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Mr Brown (a cattle farmer from Fermanagh) explained exactly what this means on the ground.

At Stirling in Scotland in 2018, there were 109 bulls at the spring sale from 43 exhibitors.

In 2019, the number was 120, from 37 exhibitors.

In 2020 the sale was cancelled due to Covid.

But in 2021 the figure was four bulls, from three exhibitors.

“That is simply down to the fact that once those animals go over there for sale, if they’re not sold... they cannot return for a six month period,” said Mr Brown.

“So it has done away completely with the opportunity of our pedigree breeders to have that shop window in Great Britain.”

Meanwhile yesterday SDLP MP Colum Eastwood called for the government in London to draw up a law “to stop the institutions coming down if one political party has a petulant strop” (a reference to the DUP’s threat to walk out of government).

It comes as the Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections and Petitions of Concern) Bill makes its way through Parliament, which would allow ministers to stay in office for up to 24 weeks after such a collapse.

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