Conservation plan for livestock launched

A plan to conserve the genetic material of the country's farmed animals has this week been launched.

The plan makes recommendations to the industry and Government on how we can improve and maintain the diversity of our livestock's genetic material in the future.

The recommendations fall under the following categories:

? To maintain an advisory body to better inform the public, industry and policymakers on the country's farm animal breeds

? To improve the collection, quality and availability of information and data on genetic resources to provide effective ways for their future use

? To support the prioritisation, development and implementation of projects to conserve our genetic diversity

? To maintain a co-ordinating function and enhance issues surrounding genetic resources in other areas of Government and Industry.

Jeff Rooker Minister for sustainable farming and food said: "This plan is important economically, socially and culturally. We have a fine tradition in this country of breeding a diverse range of farm animals which in many cases can be found across the world. However, there are growing concerns over genetic diversity as growing economic pressures have lead to a few specialised breeds spreading across the globe. The threat of exotic diseases is also a threat to diversity in some breeds.

"There are also new challenges and opportunities for livestock farmers today and our genetic resources and the expertise of breeders have the potential to meet our pressing environmental and market challenges.

"This strategic approach to manage our world renowned genetic resources is to be complimented and I think all involved would agree that this will help us form policy in the years to come whilst at the same time ensuring the survival of many of our loved and cherished breeds."