New Scrapie Monitoring Status To Help Reinstate Breeding Sheep Sales With Northern Ireland

Short window to apply for qualifying status before 31 December. The Scrapie Monitoring Scheme (SMS) has been amended to allow for a new status that will support breeding sheep sales between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Around 9,000 breeding sheep move annually to Northern Ireland but since the Northern Ireland Protocol came into effect at the end of 2020, only a very small number of sheep have been traded. This new qualifying status is an amendment to existing EU trade rules to allow sheep imports into the EU single market, which includes Northern Ireland, without full scrapie monitoring status

The Scrapie Qualifying Status (SQS) will allow Scottish flocks to register straight away but it is important to note that this must be done by 31 December 2021.  Once registered, flocks will move to the full scheme after three years of monitoring and the temporary scheme will close.

If a Scottish seller misses the 31 December deadline for SQS, it will take at least three years in the SMS to achieve ‘controlled risk status’ which would allow them to export to NI.

NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager Hannah Baker said: “NFUS welcomes the introduction of this status and the fact that it allows trade with Northern Ireland to resume, which is of particular importance to some of our Blackface sheep breeders.
“While this is an important breakthrough in restarting this valuable trade in breeding sheep, we urge all those looking to trade with Northern Ireland to make themselves aware of the Scrapie Monitoring Scheme (SMS) rules which they will be required to meet as part of the Scrapie Qualifying Status (SQS).
“Of note is the requirements around trading with non-SMS registered flocks and that if any animals are brought onto a holding from an unregistered farm they need to be kept separate or the SQS/SMS status is lost.
“Trading only with those signed up to the Scrapie Monitoring Scheme of the Qualifying Scheme may not be practical for some Scottish farmers and could limit the popularity of signing up for SQS.
“The SQS is an important and valuable step forward.  While we have not been able to solve the trade issues for breeding sheep travelling to Northern Ireland completely, this qualifying scheme has the potential to restart this valuable trade.”

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