Preserving competition in the anti-parasitic market is key and rules that would undermine this must not be introduced by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), one farm organisation has stated.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has voiced a number of concerns in relation to the upcoming introduction of the EU regulations on veterinary medicinal products, which will apply to livestock.

It is particularly concerned that these rules could cause the price of such products to soar for farmers if availability becomes limited. Animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell stated:

“ICSA believes that there is a real risk to competition in relation to anti-parasitic products which up to now have been sold by veterinary practitioners, licensed merchants including co-op shops and pharmacies.”

He outlined that the variety of outlets selling these products has been critical in ensuring they are available at fair prices, and has prevented excessive markups for retailers and pharmaceutical companies.

Competition is key in relation to encouraging more companies to produce generic options, which are typically cheaper than the original, patented medication, he added.

Failure to ensure there is full competition in the market in relation to anti-parasitics will threaten the viability of farmers in lower income sectors including cattle and sheep, said Farrell.

He explained that prohibitive prices resulting from a lack of competition could lead to an underuse of the products which would be contrary to the need for greater efficiencies in animal performance, such as the earlier finishing of animals in relation to climate change.

“Competition is critical when it comes to ensuring that farmers have access to anthelmintic doses which play an important role in animal health and thrive,” he Farrell.

His made the comments when he addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine last week, when he added:

“We are very concerned that an unduly onerous and over-restrictive prescription only regime will be introduced, and we are fighting to ensure that we find workable solutions that keep product available at a fair price to farmers.

“The ICSA believes there is a risk that excessive amounts of bureaucracy and burdensome red tape is being imposed on the agri-food sector.”

Farrell concluded by stating that the organisation will support the Licensed Merchants Association as it seeks to find practical solutions and “deliver full competition”.