New legislation to establish the National Veterinary Prescription System – which has been developed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) – will be prioritised by government in its Spring Legislative Programme.

Government chief whip, Minister Hildegarde Naughton, today (Wednesday, January 18) published details of the programme which outlines that the Veterinary Medicinal Products, Medicated Feeds and Fertilisers Regulation Bill has been listed for “priority publication this session – spring 2023”.

The key objective of the bill is “to establish the National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS) and impose a mandatory electronic prescription requirement for Veterinary Medicinals and to provide for a fertiliser register”.

The introduction of the legislation will govern who can provide some veterinary medicinal products and will also provide the framework for the introduction of a national fertiliser database.

According to the DAFM, the NVPS “is a secure electronic prescription system” that was developed to meet certain requirements within the new European Union Veterinary Medicines Regulation 2019/6. 

The bill has been in circulation for sometime and at one stage was expected to pass through the Oireachtas by the end of 2022. However, the legislation process was halted on the advice of the Attorney General.

Previously, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine had made 19 key recommendations to the proposed bill.

The committee had highlighted that the bill could create a potential lack of market competition in relation to the dispensing of veterinary products and that there could be a cross-border trade dimension under different regulatory regimes. 

The government chief whip did not provide any update on the status of the bill.

New legislation

But Minister Naughton did confirm in the Spring Legislative Programme, which contains 38 bills for publication and priority drafting by minister, that heads of bill – which is a draft publication – is “in preparation” for the Agriculture Appeals (Amendment) Bill.

The bill will “amend the Agricultural Appeals, Act 2001” and establish an Independent Review Panel with a task to undertake independent reviews of decisions of appeals officers when requested to do so by the minister or an applicant.

Officers are employed by the Agriculture Appeals office which is an independent agency that was established to provide an appeals service to farmers who are unhappy with DAFM’s decisions about their entitlements under certain schemes.