Moves to tighten veterinary controls ‘a hammer blow’ – ICSA

The move to tighten veterinary controls for treating livestock with wormers and doses has been criticised by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), which has called the proposed change a “hammer blow” for farmers.

Hugh Farrell, the association’s animal health and welfare chairperson, said that, come January 2022 – when the proposed change in regulation by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) would come into effect – farmers would need prescriptions for “basic farming functions”.

“From 2022, it is proposed that farmers will need a veterinary prescription to treat their livestock with ordinary wormers and doses. This is a step too far and is likely to lead to more problems than it could ever hope to resolve,” Farrell argued.

At present, anthelmintics and ectoparasitic drugs can be purchased from a licensed merchant. The changes in regulation would mean a veterinary prescription would be needed to access these treatments.

“There is no justification for putting farmers through the added inconvenience of seeking out and paying for prescriptions to carry out basic farming functions. The system works perfectly well as it is, with trained licensed merchants perfectly capable of advising and dispensing, according to all relevant guidelines,” Farrell insisted.

“All this will do is add a further layer of unnecessary bureaucracy for farmers trying to do the best for their animals,” he stressed.

Farrell also argued that the decision would have a number of negative knock-on effects.

The reduction in competition for the supply of these treatments will also no doubt lead to price increases for the products. It will put jobs at risk and will create another monopoly for farmers to deal with. This is on top of the veterinary prescription costs.

“More worryingly, it could have a catastrophic knock-on effect on animal welfare. Putting up barriers between farmers and their ability to tend to the basic needs of their animals is counterproductive in the extreme and ICSA will be strenuously opposing this move,” he added.

The ICSA animal health chair concluded by highlighting what he called the “hypocrisy of regulating European farmers to within an inch of their lives while turning a blind eye on sub-standard food imports”.