David Ford said: “Until now there appeared to be a great reluctance on the part of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to recognise that bluetongue will almost inevitably arrive on the island of Ireland this summer.
“Restricting movement of susceptible animals will be of no value when the wind can blow midges across the North Channel or Irish Sea.
“I am glad that the Minister told my Alliance colleague today that she is seeking co-funding from the European Commission for a vaccination programme and actively considering this to protect livestock farmers in Northern Ireland.
“I had hoped that this action would have been taken earlier. It is, however, now welcome as a sign that the Minister and DARD are determined to protect our livestock industry.”