Farmers “will be the biggest losers” in the proposed changes to the sale and supply of antiparasitic products if the issue is not addressed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, according to one farming organisation.

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) highlighted the issue being caused by the new EU Veterinary Medicines Regulation.

Commenting, IFA Animal Health Committee chairman Pat Farrell warned that, if the Irish government does not align with the provision to allow “Suitably Qualified Persons” prescribe these products in “Licensed Merchant” stores similar to Northern Ireland, a two-tier supply system will come into effect on the island.

This, Farrell said, will “challenge the economic viability of licensed merchant stores, reduce competition in the supply of these products for farmers, and inevitably result in farmers having to pay more for the product in addition to possible prescription charges from vets”.

“There is also a real risk of creating an incentive for an illegal trade in these products across the border as a result of the divergence in approaches between both jurisdictions.

“This would seriously undermine national efforts at developing a national co-ordinated strategy on parasite control on farms,” he said.

Farrell said the Department of Agriculture has been “acutely aware of these issues and the need to have them addressed at the drafting stage of the regulation – but refused to do so”.

Concluding, the chairman said the situation can still be resolved, if there is a willingness to do so, “by providing for ‘Suitably Qualified Persons’ to prescribe these products in licensed merchant stores and veterinary pharmacies similar to what applies in Northern Ireland under this same regulation”.