IFA Animal Health Chairman Pat Farrell said the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue must deliver a practical and workable solution for all stakeholders in the prescribing of anthelmintics.
The IFA Animal Health Chairman said the Minister and his officials are acutely aware of the rejection by farmers, licensed merchants and veterinary pharmacies of putting control in the hands of one service provider, who has a vested economic interest in the supply of these products.
Pat Farrell said, “In Northern Ireland and our primary export market, Great Britain, there is no requirement for veterinary involvement in the prescribing of these products”.
He said, “Within the EU legal text of the veterinary medicine regulation, there is ample room to provide a workable solution for all parties. To overcome this issue, we must ensure farmers can source these products in a competitive market. Licensed merchants and veterinary pharmacies must continue to play a crucial role in providing advice, guidance and the sale of antiparasitic products”.
“We have seen the distorting effect categorising veterinary medicine products as POM has on the supply chain, with the prescriber put in a dominant supply position. This is more impactful on farmers with limited or no competition in their area for large animal veterinary services.”
“There are several options open to the Minister to resolve this problem. If we are serious about implementing a coordinated National Antiparasitic programme, all stakeholders must have the opportunity to participate actively.”
The IFA Chairman said advances in analytical tools and results from laboratory tests provide for a better, more targeted prescribing and usage approach to antiparasitic products. Rather than the current simplistic and anti-competitive position where only the farm vet is deemed acceptable to prescribe.
“Farmers fully support the better and more targeted use of antiparasitic products; however, this will not be achieved if control is in the hands of a prescriber who has a significant economic interest in the supply of these products,” he said.
It is up to the Minister to take on board the views of the vast majority of stakeholders. He must deliver a practical and workable solution to ensure farmers continue to have a competitive system in place to purchase antiparasitic products when needed on their farms.