The coming months will see a particular focus on livestock health with the adoption by the European Parliament of a new Animal Health Law, with an emphasis on “prevention is better than cure”, Mairead McGuinness, Midlands North West MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament said at the official opening ceremony for Sheep 2015, held at Teagasc, Athenry, Co. Galway at the weekend (20th June).
She said the EU is reviewing the current Veterinary Medicines legislation with a view to ensuing that the livestock sector continues to have the necessary veterinary medicines, particularly for minor species.
“There is a particular emphasis on antimicrobial resistance – with the use of antibiotics in focus,” she said. “Globally there is growing concern about the increasing resistance to antibiotics in humans and a movement for more stringent controls on antibiotics in livestock. This is a development that will impact livestock farmers and a review of the legislation is currently being debated in the Environment and Agriculture Committees of the European Parliament.
“Equally the revision of rules on Medicated Feed will impact farmers as here too the emphasis is on tightening up the rules.
“For sheep farmers, anthelmintic resistance is an issue and one that is being addressed, with indications from Teagasc research that 48pc of worm dose treatments failed in 2014, indicating problems with resistance,” she said.
And she said it’s important that all medications and treatments are used optimally and in line with recommendations to ensure continued effectiveness.
McGuinness praised the work of Teagasc and all those involved in organising Sheep 2015, which provided a wealth of information for farmers on all aspects of farming.
“The science of farming was in focus at the event and given the many pressures and demands on farmers, it was great to see good quality, comprehensive information and advice available in one location.”
She said sheep farming is an important enterprise on thousands of Irish farms from lowlands to the hills and sustains rural communities.
“The sector is export focused and the emphasis must be maintained, as well as ensuring decent returns to producers and encouraging young people to take up sheep farming.
“It is heartening to know that an additional 5,000 young people have signed up for agriculture training courses in the coming months – a sign of a vibrant industry,” she added.