New border roles spark fears of vet shortages
Farmers could face further difficulties in getting vets to call out to their farm as the Department of Agriculture's invitation to vets to register for Border Inspection Posts (BIP) with them as part of Brexit contingency planning could exacerbate the shortage of large-animal specialists.
The Department yesterday launched an initiative which would see vets deployed at Dublin and Rosslare Ports should the need arise. It told the Farming Independent that the number of vets needed to fill the BIPs would depend on the outcome of Brexit.
But ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch warned that the move would only lead to further shortages in large-animal vets and add pressure on the industry.
"A lot of the best vets have already gone to work for the Department. We need to ask ourselves how we can work to remunerate large-animal vets," he said.
"Further to this, suckler farmers aren't earning nearly enough to afford some of the high vet fees that are out there because of the shortage that is there. It is a problem that will get worse before it gets better."
IFA animal health committee member Bert Stewart pointed out that many large-animal vet practices in Ulster are having to recruit vets from eastern Europe as it is a "real struggle" to recruit domestic large-animal vets.
Conor Geraghty of Veterinary Ireland said he would prefer if the positions were filled by existing temporary veterinary inspection officers, rather than recruiting new vets.
Meanwhile, farm organisations have warned that the recent move to increase the three-year state aid limit from €15,000 to €25,000 would barely cover the costs already incurred by the struggling beef sector.