ICSA calls for scrapie levy to be binned as numbers of positive animals tumble
The scrapping of the 70c scrapie levy on ewes and a thorough examination of the €225,000 spent annually on the scrapie monitoring scheme has been called for by the ICSA.
So far this year, just nine sheep have tested positive for scrapie and the final figure for 2012 was 13, according to Department of Agriculture figures.
The total number of scrapie positives for 2011 was 40 sheep from eight flocks. Despite the dangers to trade posed to exports by the disease, the ICSA has questioned if the spend on monitoring for scrapie can be justified given the current low incidence levels.
In order to find the 13 animals last year over 20,000 sheep were tested, ICSA sheep chairman Paul Brady said.
"This works out at a hit rate of 0.065pc. Moreover, some of these animals are believed to have had atypical scrapie which is believed to be non-transmissible and possibly random. In other words, it is not considered to pose a risk to human health," Mr Brady pointed out.
The Department admitted the scrapie positives last year came from nine flocks, but not all were depopulated.
"The samples from five of these flocks were identified as being 'Classical Scrapie' and the flocks were subsequently depopulated. The samples from four of the flocks were found to be 'Atypical Scrapie' and were not depopulated," a Department statement said.