VETS who are crucial to Northern Ireland’s rural economy will face major challenges as a result of Brexit, West Tyrone MLA Declan Mc Aleer has said.
Speaking at the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) annual dinner at Stormont, Mr McAleer, who hosted the event, acknowledged the “crucial role that the BVA plays in protecting and promoting animal health and welfare” through its 17,000 members.
Later he continued: “Brexit has created major challenges for the agri-food industry and whatever final agreement is reached our vets will be on the frontline.
“Sinn Féin strongly advocates that the decision of the people of the North to remain in the EU should be respected. From a food standards perspective, the vast majority of our legislation emanates from the EU and to maintain standards we believe that the existing framework should be retained.
“In the context of a hard Brexit that the DUP and Tories seem to be heading for, this could well result in Britain and the North getting ‘third country’ designation which would place huge demands on vets to certify imports and exports.
“This pressure is compounded by the fact that there is an overwhelming reliance on citizens from other EU countries to fill veterinary positions and Brexit will make it more difficult to retain and recruit qualified staff to fill these important roles.
“Local vets play a central role in supporting our farmers to meet standards and they have a vital role in our abattoirs in safeguarding the health and welfare of animals and that they are slaughtered humanely. Our veterinary practitioners are central to the agriculture industry and their role is crucial to the economy.”