New rules will require farmers to have a prescription for wormers and pour-ons and introduce online prescriptions.
ICOS and the Independent Livestock Merchants Association (ILMA) are calling for a pause to the introduction of new veterinary rules until a new online e-prescription system is fully functioning in all vet practices across the country.
From 28 January next year, the new regulations will require farmers to have a prescription for all wormers and pour-ons as well antibiotics.
"We understand that the e-prescription system is at an advanced stage but the problem is that it hasn't been road tested yet," Ray Doyle, livestock and environment policy director of ICOS told the Farming Indepdent.
"We can't bring things to a cliff edge on 28 January without knowing how the system will work.”
His comments were echoed by the ILMA spokesperson Ian Scott who said a pause was needed until the system was fully operational. A crucial meeting of all stakeholders is taking place on Wednesday to discuss the matter.
It’s understood that e-prescriptions will be issued electronically by a vet to a web server that will allow the Department of Agriculture to see exactly how much treatment is being used by each farm across the country.
It had previously been thought that the e-prescriptions would be issued by text to mobile phones but this has been dismissed by sources as being too easily exploited.
It’s understood that there will be a five-day limit for e-prescriptions on antibiotics and a 12-month limit for wormers and anti-parasitics. It’s further understood that merchants and co-ops will have access to the server and farmers can quote their herd number to access their prescription once it’s been issued by their vet.
There has been considerable kick back from the farm and merchant community who fear the new measures will cause a lack of competition and allow vets to monopolise the market.
This issue was addressed by Ray Doyle who said: "We're insisting that multiple product options should be prescribed to ensure that farmers have the widest available choice of products when using the prescription.”
On the Teagasc Beef Edge podcast last week Department veterinary officer Dr Caroline Garvan there had not been any major changes in veterinary regulations in 20 years and there had been a steady increase in animal medicine use with fears of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in both the animal and human health sectors. She said that, “some highly critical important antibiotics (CIAs) that are used in human health will no longer be available to treat animals”.
Her colleague, superintending officer Damian Barrett, added that Ireland’s trading partners expected their to be high traceability on Irish food.
Separately, the latest report from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) shows there was a 17.6% (15.6t) increase in the sale of veterinary antibiotics and rise in the sale of CIAs.