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Minister Coughlan to reduce disease levies by 50%

Transitional arrangements for intramammaries for 2007

Speaking at A.G.M. of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) in Limerick today, the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, announced that she has received Government agreement to seek Oireachtas approval to reduce disease levies by 50% from 1 January 2007.

During her address to the conference, Minister Coughlan said that she was now making arrangements to secure Oireachtas approval for Regulations to fix the rates of levy from 1 January 2007 as follows:

  • 0.06 cent per gallon of milk for processing and
  • €1.27 per animal slaughtered or exported live.

These amounts represent reductions of 50% under both headings and are worth €5m a year to farmers. These reductions, together with earlier reductions, are worth a total of €15 million a year to farmers.

Minister Coughlan said that these reductions were possible because of the continuing improvement in the disease situation, particularly in the case of Brucellosis, in recent years. The total number of animals removed as Brucellosis and TB reactors fell by almost 22,000 in 2005 compared with 2002 and, as a consequence, operational costs of the schemes are falling - these are expected to be €47m in 2006 compared with €76m in 2002. Compensation costs, in particular, have fallen from €48m in 2002 to an estimated €18m in 2006. The new rates will contribute some €5m a year compared with €20m in 2003.

Veterinary Medicines

Minister Coughlan said that in relation to veterinary medicines, most of Irish legislation is based on arrangements adopted at EU level and her approach to implementing this legislation is to ensure that it effectively fulfils the objective of protecting human and animal health while, at the same time, limiting the burden that medicines impose on farmers and the medicines sector in general.

Minister Coughlan added that a decision was taken some time ago following a report by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) that intramammaries containing antibiotics should be made "prescription only". Her Department has been in discussion with the relevant stakeholders in the industry on the most appropriate arrangements for implementing this decision. These discussions have involved the introduction of an alternative prescribing regime for these products based on effective mastitis control programmes which have the objective of reducing the incidence of mastitis and the prudent use of antibiotics. It is expected that the consultation process will be completed shortly after which Minister Coughlan will be making decisions on the appropriate arrangements on this aspect and which would complement the normal prescribing arrangements.

"While intramammaries will technically become subject to prescriptions from 1 January next, they will in practice continue to be available off-prescription until 1 Jan 2008 because of the transitional arrangements agreed between the Department, the IMB and industry. These arrangements provide that intramammaries can continue to be placed on the market with existing labels until 30 June 2007 and to be sold over the counter in retail outlets until 31 December 2007. These transitional arrangements are necessary both to enable licence holders go through the process of having their IMB authorisations amended, to effect packaging changes in an orderly manner and to avoid confusion in the market. The net effect of this is that farmers can continue to purchase intramammaries over the counter until 1 January 2008."

30 November 2006

Date Released: 30 November 2006