Pics: ICMSA protests against the threatened closure of Regional Vet Lab

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) held a protest yesterday, January 02, against the threatened closure of a Regional Vet Lab in the southeast.

The protest, which was organised by Kilkenny ICMSA, was held outside the Regional Veterinary Lab in Kilkenny.

It is now clear that farmers all over the southeast are categorically against the prospect of closure or amalgamation of the lab, according to Chairperson of Kilkenny ICMSA, John Robinson.

These farmers would regard this prospect as an inexcusable degradation of a vital piece of agri-infrastructure at precisely the time when the region’s farmers and critically important food production sector needs reassurance and support, he said.

Robinson, who is farmer from Kilmanagh just outside Kilkenny city, led a demonstration that met members of the Review Group as they arrived at the Leggetsrath facility to protest against the threatened closure.

The Chairperson of Kilkenny ICMSA also pointed out that in the event of the closure going ahead, local farmers would be expected to travel to Dublin or Athlone to avail of the next nearest laboratory.

The idea that one of the state’s foremost food production areas and one of Europe’s most intensive dairying districts would be left without an official veterinary lab was ‘mind-boggling’, Robinson said.

He promised that ICMSA would resist any efforts to further reduce the number of Regional Vet Labs, which now stands at six for the whole country.

“A delegation representing Kilkenny and Laois ICMSA met with the department’s officials, I take this opportunity to thank them for that courtesy, and we made it clear that farmers all over the southeast regard the idea that this office could be closed as nothing less than demented.

How is this idea meant to fit into last week’s announcement of the ‘Realising our Rural Potential’ policy in which Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, pledged to support real economic re-invigoration of rural districts?

A mere week later ICMSA discovers that one of the key state aids for the southeast’s farming and food production sector is being considered for closure or amalgamation?

“ICMSA will resist this negative proposal every step of the way,” he said.