New post-Brexit legislation has left Agriculture Minister Andrew Muir without any powers to control animal disease in NI.

Under the terms of the Windsor Framework (Implementation) Regulations, which came into force on 12 April 2024, a total of 19 pieces of EU legislation are now subject to the “direction and control” of the Defra Secretary of State, Steve Barclay.

Included within that are EU rules relating to plant health, animal welfare, veterinary medicines and animal health. The long list of animal diseases that come under EU animal health law include bovine TB, along with bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), avian influenza (bird flu), bluetongue and foot and mouth disease.

Speaking in the Stormont Assembly chamber on Monday, Minister Muir said he had been engaging with the UK government and NI Office Minister Steve Baker on the issue and that it needs to be rectified.

When asked specifically about bovine TB, he said he had been working with DAERA officials on possible interventions to try and get disease rates down, but once the new Windsor Framework Regulations came into force, the engagement stopped.

“I am aware that a wildlife strategy is part of this, and I want to make announcements about that in the time ahead, providing the UK Government sort out this mess,” Minister Muir told MLAs.


The Windsor Framework deal between the UK government and the EU in February 2023 created the concept of green and red lanes to move goods from Britain to NI.

The new implementation regulations give the Defra Secretary powers to support the operation of the Windsor Framework and also follow through on relevant commitments made in the ‘Safeguarding the Union’ paper which brought the DUP back to Stormont.

However, while it had been thought these powers would effectively be limited to internal UK market trade, it turns out they actually go well beyond that.

TB compensation

The latest developments have created an uncertain situation for farm lobby groups. Do they now approach Secretary of State Barclay to implement a targeted badger cull in NI? And with limited powers to control TB in NI, will DAERA be more likely to follow through with a cut to compensation for TB reactor animals?

At Stormont on Monday, Minister Muir confirmed DAERA had bid for funding from the Stormont Executive to be able to keep the compensation rate at 100%. “But I received no funding whatsoever for that. I am engaging with officials to see what we can do,” he said