Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
638. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the up-to-date position relating to his review of proposed changes in regulations that would impact negatively on farmers attempting to access animal medication through farm stores without veterinarian involvement; if his attention has been drawn to the additional costs that such a measure would impose on farmers; his views on whether such a move could impact negatively on animal welfare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62932/21]
The Regulations on Veterinary Medicinal Products will enter into force on 28th January 2022. Following engagement with all those involved, I have decided to defer the implementation of the element requiring anti-parasitic medicines to be supplied on foot of a veterinary prescription until 1st June 2022. This will enable all stakeholders make the necessary business and/or infrastructural adjustments to ensure compliance with the Regulations across all current supply routes and ensure farmers are not disadvantaged.
I have set out a clear roadmap for implementing key elements within the new Regulations including:
1. The new requirements regarding the prescribing of antimicrobials, including antibiotics and medicated feed, will come into effect on January 28th 2022.
2. Veterinary prescriptions will be required for anti-parasitic medicines from 1st June 2022.
3. The mandatory requirement to use the new National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS) is deferred until 1st June 2022. Veterinary practitioners can continue to issue paper-based prescriptions in the current format until then.
4. The NVPS will be available for voluntary use by vets from the end of January onwards, helping ensure that prescribers and dispensers are familiar with the system when its use becomes compulsory.
5. Prescriptions for anti-parasitic medicines issued by vets after 1st June will be valid for a maximum period of 12-months. Anti-parasitic medicines can then be purchased by the farmer via the NVPS from his preferred supplier at any time throughout the period that the prescription is valid.
I am also in the process of finalising a proposal to introduce a large-scale Targeted Advisory Service on Animal Health (TASAH) programme specifically focused on parasite control on farms in 2022. This measure will allow farmers engage a specifically trained vet to provide advice on parasite control measures in their herd, at no cost to the farmer.
I recognise that the new Veterinary Medicines Regulation means significant change for farmers, vets, pharmacists and licensed merchants – all of whom have, and will, play key roles in maintaining the health of our livestock. In this context, it is important to recall that the overarching objective of the Regulations is to address the issue of development of resistance to anti-microbial medicines and also anti-parasitic medicines for the long term benefit of farmers and society.
I have consulted widely and listened to a range of voices on this topic, and I believe the steps I have outlined will ensure that we address the challenge of anti-microbial and anti-parasitic resistance and support the health and welfare of our livestock, thus improving productivity. Farmers will continue to have access to a range of sales points thus helping competition, and licensed merchants will continue to be a trusted source of animal health products.