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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the detection of Bluetongue in an imported animal in NI is a reminder of the risks associated with importing animals from regions of lower health status.

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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has strongly rejected the guidance issued by the Veterinary Council of Ireland for vets providing a service to farmers and the issuing of prescriptions.

The IFA Chairman said the guidance is a gross interference with the functioning of a competitive service provision to farmers and is at odds with the clearly set out legislative criteria in relation to the prescribing of veterinary medicines for animals.

Pat Farrell said this guidance document is a blatant attempt to stifle competition in the provision of veterinary services, is unacceptable and must be checked by the relevant authorities.

He said attempting to justify these guidelines in the context of AMR is misleading and ignores the real concern of the vested economic interest of prescribers of antibiotics in the supply of these products.

Pat Farrell said farmers, the Department of Agriculture and all other stakeholders are proactively engaged in a collaborative process to address AMR concerns and are making significant progress. This process has been ignored and undermined by the Veterinary Council document.

In the context of prescribing veterinary medicines for animals, Pat Farrell said the new EU Veterinary Medicinal Products Regulation is at an advanced stage and this sets out the key prescribing criteria for veterinary medicinal products. It includes distinguishing between antimicrobials and other standard products such as vaccines. These criteria will be discussed by DAFM with all stakeholders over the coming months and will set out the legislative criteria that will have to be complied with.

Pat Farrell concluded by saying it is incumbent on the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed that farmers are allowed to access a competitive and large animal veterinary service and facilitated in acquiring the relevant expertise for their farm. He said the current guidelines issued by the Veterinary Council grossly interferes with this.

Pat Farrell has called on the Minister to investigate as a matter of urgency the interference with open market competition in the provision of veterinary services to farmers in this document and to have the matter addressed urgently.

Outlining the key principles that must form the basis of the upcoming review of the TB eradication programme, IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the cost burden on farmers has gone on for too long.

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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has welcomed the announcement that the EU Commission has recognised the merits of the case put forward by IFA to reduce the VAT rate on vaccines by working on plans to allow Member States to reduce the rate of VAT to 0%.

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IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell has welcomed the development of a protocol between the Department of Agriculture, BVD testing laboratories and tag supply companies, which will offset some of the difficulties associated with empty BVD samples for farmers.

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