There is “huge confusion” about who is in charge of policies related to animal and plant health in NI, the chair of Stormont’s agriculture committee has said.

Speaking at last Thursday’s committee meeting, Tom Elliott pointed out that DAERA Minister Andrew Muir and the UK government appear to have different interpretations of new post-Brexit legislation.

“There is a serious divergence in views on this between the Minister and the UK government,” the Ulster Unionist MLA said.

The issue surrounds new Windsor Framework regulations where 19 pieces of EU legislation have come under the control of the UK government’s Environment Secretary Steve Barclay.

The list of legislation covers rules related to animal and plant health, including bovine TB, bluetongue, and avian influenza.

Elliott told MLAs that correspondence from the UK government states that Barclay “anticipates exercising these powers only to the extent necessary to support the operation of the Windsor Framework”.

Despite that, Elliott appeared to take a similar view as Minister Muir and suggested that the legislation means DAERA no longer has “overall control of various issues, particularly things like animal health”.

William Irwin from the DUP took a different stance, arguing that Minister Muir should not have told MLAs last week that he no longer has control over animal and plant health policies in NI.

“There is somebody wrong somewhere. It looks like the minister made a mistake,” Irwin said.

However, speaking in the Assembly on Tuesday, Minister Muir appeared to stick with his interpretation of the new legislation when he contributed to a debate on veterinary medicines.

“I currently have no control over this area, as the movement of veterinary medicines between Great Britain and NI is now subject to the direction and control of the Secretary of State [Steve Barclay],” he said.