Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

ICSA calls for scrapie levy to be binned as numbers of positive animals tumble

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

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.

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"The current scrapie figures are considerably lower than a few years ago. In 2006, there were 123 sheep, coming from 37 flocks which tested positive. In 2007, the figures were 81 positive sheep coming from 19 flocks," Mr Brady said.

ICSA president Gabriel Gilmartin said farmers were getting increasingly concerned at all the costs involved in the scrapie scheme.


"The scrapie levy costs around 70c/adult sheep (over 18 months) and this is in addition to 50c for the Department of Agriculture, 25c for Bord Bia, 7c for Sheep Ireland and €1.27 for SRM disposal. All of this adds up and applies regardless of the value of the sheep," Mr Gilmartin explained.

"What is worse is that the Department says that the scrapie levy is a matter for the meat factories who apparently have some discretion on how much is levied. This cannot be allowed to go on," he said.

Mr Gilmartin called for the 70c levy on ewes to be scrapped and level of scrapie testing to be substantially reduced.

However, the Department insisted that the current scrapie testing and depopulation regimes were required under EU regulations.

Irish Independent

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