Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Department of Agriculture and Food
Animal Health Standards
Question 96: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department is working with the new body charged with improving non-regulatory diseases such as mastitis, IBR and BVD; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12002/09]
Question 98: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress being made by Animal Health Ireland in relation to the commitment in the Programme for Government to introduce a herd health initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11876/09]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 98 together.
I recently launched Animal Health Ireland which aims to improve overall animal health standards, thereby enhancing on-farm productivity and securing improved profitability for farmers through a coordinated national approach to animal health. This delivers on the commitment contained in the Programme for Government, referred to by Deputy Conlon, that my Department would "introduce a new Herd Health Initiative to deal with non-regulated diseases".
The main priority of Animal Health Ireland will be to identify and prioritise non-regulated disease conditions that impact negatively from both a financial and disease perspective on Irish livestock, excluding those already covered by regulation. Non-regulated diseases include mastitis, IBR and BVD.
Animal Health Ireland represents a significant change from the long-established Government-led model that has characterised animal health policy to date in Ireland. AHI provides a unique opportunity to develop an improved understanding of current practices and future trends in international best practice in the area of herd health and affords those organisations â including farmers, producers, processors, and support/advisory service â actively participating in the project to build on the significant resources, informational infrastructure, capabilities and expertise already available within the range of organisations and, following on from that, to develop a national strategy to take appropriate action in the area of non-regulatory animal health, which in effect will allow industry to a large extent to shape its own future.
My Department is cooperating fully with AHI. As well as meeting some of the initial costs of AHI my Department is providing a small number of Executive staff and additional assistance by way of expertise to assist the interim Steering Group of AHI for a period. Work has commenced on the administrative arrangements to be put in place to support AHI, which will operate independently of my Department.