Knackeries will resume testing sheep for the disease scrapie today (Monday, January 16), the Animal Collectors Association (ACA) has said.

On this day last week, the ACA, the body that represents knackeries in Ireland, told the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that its members will cut back on the services they provide due to disputes on a number of issues.

Since then, knackeries that are members of the ACA have not been testing sheep for scrapie, a degenerative disease of the nervous system in sheep and goats.

Scrapie is a notifiable disease, which means farmers are legally obliged to notify the department if they suspect a sheep or goat may be infected with scrapie.

The association had warned that a further reduction of services would follow due to lack of funds available to its members.

It had told the department: “The members of the ACA are angered at the lack of appreciation by [the department] for the services they provide and lack of consideration shown to the limited finances in the industry, with rising costs since early 2022.”

However, today the ACA has announced that, following a meeting between the department and the ACA last Friday (January 13), the association is recommending to its members to “temporarily suspend” this reduction of services.

The association confirmed that testing for scrapie has resumed today.

This recommendation to return to normal services has been made, the ACA said, in anticipation of “comprehensive negotiations” between it and the department, with a view to an agreed renewal of the Fallen Animal Scheme ahead of the end of the current scheme on February 25.

A spokesperson for the ACA told Agriland last week that, while an updated Fallen Animal Scheme is set to come into place on February 25, the association had not yet seen a copy of proposed changes.

The spokesperson also said that it is approaching a busy time of year for knackeries, and that issues around the Fallen Animal Scheme needed to be resolved now.