Public & Animal Health - Department of Agriculture

Note: The views expressed in this background paper do not purport to reflect the views
of the Minister or the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Maintaining Confidence in the Food Chain
The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine continues to place huge emphasis on
animal health and welfare, public health, safety and quality. Over many years the
Department has provide the impetus to improve standards and has contributed to the
international recognition of Ireland as a centre of excellence for food production, quality and
Food Safety Governmental Bodies
There is continued collaboration between Departments and relevant agencies on the
development of food safety policy and legislation. The following are the main bodies
involved with Food Safety issues in Ireland:
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is a statutory, independent, science
based agency dedicated to protecting public health and consumer interests in food
safety and hygiene.
Sea Fisheries Protection Authority was established in 2007. It has functions in
relation to the enforcement of food safety legislation in respect of fish and fish
The Food Safety Promotion Board, now known as Safefood1 was established in 1999
to foster and maintain confidence in the food supply on the island of Ireland by
working in partnership with others to protect and improve the public’s health.
At EU level, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is an independent European
agency dedicated to improving consumer confidence by providing independent
scientific advice and clear communication on all matters related to food safety.
Safefood (formerly known as FSPB). Its purpose is to foster and maintain confidence in the food
supply in the island of Ireland by working in partnership with others to protect and improve the
publics’ health.
Where are we now?
The main responsibility for farm animal health and welfare, and for the safety of foods of
animal origin (including the control of residues) is vested with the Minister of Agriculture,
Food and the Marine. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, (DAFM) advises
the Minister on matters of animal health and disease, zoonoses, and public health in so far
as it relates to food and products of animal origin.
It assists in the preparation,
implementation and enforcement of European Union and National legislation, implements
control measures to protect the health of the animal and human populations, and provides
certification for animals and animal products intended for export.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) under the aegis of the Department of Health and
Children was formally established on 1st January 1999 with responsibility for the regulatory
functions of existing agencies (relevant Departments, Health Service Executives, Local
Authorities, etc.) The principal function of the FSAI is to take all reasonable steps to ensure
that food produced, distributed or marketed in the State meets the highest standards of
food safety and hygiene, and to ensure that food complies with legal requirements and,
where appropriate, with recognised codes of good practice.
While many of the activities of the Department’s staff is to some degree on food safety,
there are four main areas of responsibility for food safety – meat, milk and milk products,
fish and seafood, eggs and egg products and pesticides. These are the areas in respect of
which the Department have a service contract with the FSAI for the delivery of a wide range
of food inspection services.
Authorised officers are authorised under the relevant legislation to enforce EU and National
measures relating to animal health and welfare, including legislation concerning the control
of animal disease, veterinary medicines, and the hygienic production of foods of animal
origin, by routine inspection and sampling, by investigation and the acquisition of evidence,
and by legal process in the courts, often in co-operation with the Garda (police) and Customs
Certain measures relating to EU veterinary legislation, in particular, controls on compound
feeds for livestock, zootechnics, and dairy products, are implemented by the Department’s
Agricultural Inspectorate, which is headed by the Chief Agriculture Inspector.
Regulatory controls to address known hazards in the food chain
Almost all of the legislative controls on the food chain in Ireland are ultimately derived from
Brussels. EU legislation to ensure the safety of the food chain has been extensively revised to
ensure the safety of the food chain. It has been consolidated over the past couple of
decades in order to ensure harmonisation of standards across member states, facilitate free
movement of goods within the community and the establishment of a customs union and
address specific food crises. The diagram in annex 1 illustrates: (i) the complexity of the food
chain for foods of animal origin; (ii) the multiplicity and range of recognised biological and
chemical hazards that may arise along its length and (iii) specific legislative measures to
address these known hazards (major primary legislation and specific concerns that are
legislated for). In EU law, Food business operators are primarily responsible for food safety
(178/2002) whilst public bodies such as the FSAI and DAFM are given specific responsibility
for oversight and inspection to ensure that regulatory controls are properly implemented
(882/2004). Food business operators (FBOs) must comply with food legislation. FSAI, SFPA
and DAFM are parties to a multi-annual national control plan (MANCP), which a risk-based
approach prescribes the number and type of inspections of FBOs and farming enterprises
that are to be undertaken each year and the parameters that are to be considered at each.
Whilst regulatory controls (e.g. meat inspection, residue monitoring, animal disease controls)
are focussed on addressing areas of greatest risk with most impact, obvious limitations
relate to their imposition after-the-fact (i.e. usually only after a risk has become manifest)
and the fact that by definition, controls prescribed in legislation are inflexible and do not
generally provide safeguards against new and previously unforeseen risks. In addition, the
EU cannot legislate for all known hazards to the food chain – i.e. (i) where a unique set of
circumstances may attach to a single member state (e.g. in Ireland increased grass-based
cattle production as envisaged in Food Harvest 2020 and increased reliance on private wells
for supply of untreated drinking water to rural households poses a particular risk to public
health) or (ii) where a one-size-fits-all approach and fixed rules are not appropriate (e.g. one
might provide sensible, step-by-step guidelines to facilitate sustainable and profitable
expansion of dairy enterprises but it is hard to imagine how such measures could be codified
in law).
Annex I
From a lecture on “Regulation of Food
Safety by the European Union” by Colm
Gaynor (UCD; February 2014) and
“Integrated Food Safety and Veterinary
Public Health”, Bunic, S. (2006)
The Food Chain
Food of animal origin model
Heavy Metals, PAHs,
Pesticides, Mycotoxins,
Phytotoxins, Fertilizers
Animal Feeds
Veterinary Medicines
Drugs, Growth
(bacteria, viruses,
Rodent, bird and
insect borne
Regulation (EC)
852, 853 &
General &
Specific hygiene
rules for food of
animal origin
Animals on farms
Vertical and horizontal
transmission of
transmission of
Faecal and cross
additives, biogenic
Packaging compounds
Plasticisers, Inks
Storage and retail
Water and soil borne
Domestic, trade
and retail
Cross contamination,
pathogens, microbial
Animal Health
A key component of food safety is the health of the animals which the food is derived. To
provide confidence to consumers with food safety in mind, a number of national schemes is
in place to ensure the identification and traceability of animals/meat. These systems provide
further assurances to consumers of the safety of Irish meat and have benefits in terms of
disease control and monitoring.
In Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine operates the control and
eradication measures for BSE, Bovine Tuberculosis and Brucellosis. This involves a
combination of testing, routine inspections and investigations and mandatory and voluntary
reporting and codes of practice. DAFM is also a significant stakeholder and funder of Animal
Health Ireland (AHI), established in January 2009, which is an industry-led, not-for-profit
partnership between livestock producers, processors, animal health advisers and
government. Its remit includes diseases and conditions of cattle that are endemic in Ireland,
but which are not currently subject to regulation and coordinated programmes of control. A
decreased burden of these diseases in the national cattle herd benefits consumers and the
industry by reducing the need for veterinary treatments and by improving the process ability
of animal products.
There has been a continued improvement in the overall disease situation in recent years as
illustrated in Figures 1 to 3.
The incidence of BSE has fallen dramatically in recent years (Figure 1). More importantly
there have been no cases identified in any animal born since 2004 which confirms that the
control measures adopted in the mid-nineties were effective in reducing the exposure of
cattle born after that time.
Ireland is free of Brucellosis in sheep, pigs and cattle. There has been no outbreak of
Brucellosis in cattle in Ireland since April 2006 and Ireland obtained Official Brucellosis Free
status in July 2009, following which a controlled reduction in Brucellosis testing
requirements is being implemented with significant savings for farmers. The main changes
made to the testing regime since the attainment of Brucellosis free status are as follows:
the age threshold for annual round testing has been increased to 24 months;
the validity period of the pre-movement test has been increased from 30 days to 60
the age-limit for the pre-movement test has been increased from 18 to 24 months;
from 1 January 2013, only 20% of all herds with eligible animals are required to be
tested every year for the round test;
The one movement per test rule was abolished as from 1 January 2013.
Following the above changes, the number of samples tested for Brucellosis in 2013, as part
of the annual round test was 1.2 million. It is estimated that the level of testing will continue
at this level until Northern Ireland declares OBF.
With regard to bovine TB, the incidence of this disease has been on a sustained incremental
downward trajectory over recent years. Herd incidence in 2013 was 3.85% compared with
5.88% in 2008 and 4.21% in 2012. The number of TB reactors in 2013 was 15,618 compared
with 29,901 in 2008 which was 15.3% lower than in 2012.
Actual expenditure on the TB and Brucellosis programmes in 2013 was €32m compared with
€38m in 2012 and €40m in 2010. The reduction in expenditure since 2010 was mainly due to
a decrease in TB reactor numbers, reduced compensation payments, higher prices paid by
meat factories for reactors and changes to the Brucellosis testing arrangements.
Veterinary Medicines
Veterinary medicines and vaccines play a crucial role in ensuring that Ireland’s animal
population, particularly those animal species which are a source of food, remains healthy
and prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans. They ensure a safe food supply
by maintaining the health of agricultural animals. An effective and up to date legislative code
is in place to ensure that only authorised medicines are used and that the specifications
governing their distribution and use are observed. A further important safeguard for
consumers is provided by the National Residue Plan under which extensive monitoring of
animals and animal products takes place. Tests are carried out for a wide range of
substances, including banned products, violative residues of authorised products and
environmental contaminants.
In a typical year, in the region of 20,000 samples are tested. The overall safety of Irish food is
demonstrated by the fact that levels of positives have consistently been at very low levels
over a number of years (less than 1%). In the case of each residue breach identified, a
consumer risk assessment is carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to evaluate
any threat to human health and to assess if food should be withdrawn from the market. In
addition, all positive results are followed up to the farm of origin to determine the cause and
enforcement action, including a penalty on the farmer’s Single Farm Payment or legal action,
is taken as appropriate.
Ireland’s Animal Health Status
Ireland’s farmed animal population of 6.5 million cattle, 3.5 million sheep and 1.5 million
pigs have a high animal health status. This is underpinned and supported by systems and
legislation to ensure that this status continues. Our geographical location confers an
additional natural protection from disease threats in mainland Europe, North Africa and the
Middle East. In recent years, outbreaks of diseases such as foot and mouth disease, avian
influenza, bluetongue and African swine fever, within or close to Europe have clearly
illustrated the increasing threat posed from such diseases. Vigilance against disease
introduction is a priority for the Department and previous experiences have demonstrated
the absolute necessity of properly regulating trade, high levels of biosecurity, continued
vigilance, contingency arrangements and robust legislation to deal speedily and effectively
with disease threats and outbreaks.
The recently implemented Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 provides a robust legal
framework to enforce modern biosecurity and disease preventative measures aimed at
reducing risk. This legislation is enforced through the network of some 300 state
veterinarians supported by over 1,000 private veterinarians nationwide.
In terms of infrastructural systems, the Department’s Animal Health Computer System
(AHCS) contains a database of premises where cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and horses
are kept to support the Department’s animal health and welfare programmes. It is closely
integrated with a number of the Department’s other computer systems such as the Animal
Identification and Movement (AIM) system; Corporate Customer System (CCS); Agriculture
Field and Inspection Testing System (AFIT) and the Laboratory Information Management
System (LIMS).
Private veterinary practitioners in approximately 440 veterinary practices
throughout the country also use AHCS on a daily basis as part of the operation of the
national Bovine TB and Brucellosis eradication programmes.
Exotic disease threats
Exotic diseases are those that are external to Ireland but which if introduced would have
very significant negative consequences. In seeking to ensure that such diseases are not
introduced requires very significant discipline on the behalf of the industry generally and
requires the development of contingency plans with regard to a response if such diseases
occur in Ireland. Among the most significant risks are the following;
1. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)
FMD is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, pigs, sheep and
certain wildlife species. The disease can cause massive economic losses when introduced
into countries which are free from the disease generating negative effects due to reduced
animal productivity and restrictions on international livestock trade. The FMD epidemic that
occurred in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2001 had an estimated cost of around 12-14 billion
of Euros to the economy with a total of about six million animals destroyed. Unless firm
precautions are in place, FMD can be readily re-introduced into disease-free
regions/countries mainly via trade of animals and animal products. Once the disease is
introduced, the virus can spread rapidly in the area/region in the absence of rapid detection,
containment and response.
The case of FMD in Co Louth in 2001 had a devastating effect on farmers in the affected
regions and their livelihoods. It impeded trade in animals, meat products and milk products
across the globe. These bans reduced export values and led to a reduction in farm incomes
and related economic activity. The net cost to the economy was confined to €210million due
to the rapid and successful containment of the disease.
Overall costs of FMD to Irish Economy
Estimated Gains and Losses
Tourism and other sectors
Exchequer Costs
Total as % of GDP
€ million
Source: Indecon Analysis
2. Classical Swine Fever
Classical swine Fever is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. It causes a wide range of
clinical signs in pigs which may not be easily distinguishable from African Swine Fever. The
disease can cause massive economic losses when introduced into countries which are free
from the disease generating negative effects due to reduced animal productivity and
restrictions on international livestock trade. In recent months, the disease has been
identified in eastern EU. The last outbreak of CSF in Ireland was in 1958.
3. African Swine Fever (ASF)
African swine fever is another viral disease of pigs which is a major threat to the pig industry
in Ireland. This disease is currently present in Eastern Europe and is spreading westwards. In
the EU the disease was confirmed in Spain, Portugal and Sardinia in 1960. It was eradicated
from Portugal in 1993 and Spain in 1995, but remains endemic in Sardinia. More recently
disease was confirmed in Georgia in 2007, and it subsequently spread to Armenia, Russia,
Belarus and Ukraine. In January and February 2014 ASF was detected in wild boar in
Lithuania and Poland, and since then disease has spread to pigs in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia,
and Estonia. ASF has never occurred in Ireland. Identification of the disease would lead to
significant restriction on international trade.
The disease may occur in acute, sub-acute or chronic forms. The acute form causes severe
disease from which the majority of affected pigs die. There is no vaccine available for ASF.
4. Avian Influenza (AI)
Avian influenza is a highly contagious viral disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or
nervous system of many species of birds. It is caused by a Type A influenza virus. There are
two types of AI virus. These are called low pathogenic (LPAI) and highly pathogenic (HPAI),
depending on the severity of the disease that they cause in birds. Within the AI family there
are many sub-strains.
Most AI viruses do not infect humans. However some, such as A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), have
caused serious infections in people. The A(H5N1) virus subtype, a HPAI virus, first infected
humans in 1997 during a poultry outbreak in Hong Kong SAR, China. After its widespread reemergence in 2003 and 2004, this avian virus spread from Asia to Europe (including Great
Britain) and Africa and subsequently became endemic in poultry in some countries in Asia
and Africa. It has resulted in millions of poultry infections, several hundred human cases, and
many human deaths. Outbreaks in poultry have seriously impacted livelihoods, the economy
and international trade in affected countries.
Occupational exposure during the transport and handling of live birds and unprocessed
poultry products represents a high likelihood for human exposure if the birds are infected
and if general hygiene and biosecurity measures are not followed. From a public health
perspective, the main concern with subtypes that have not previously infected humans is
that if they are easily transmitted between humans, there is the potential for a new
pandemic of influenza. To date there has been only limited human-human transmission of
the Type A H5N1 and H7N9 subtypes. There is negligible likelihood resulting from the
consumption of properly prepared and cooked meat, including meat from both poultry and
game birds. Safe handling of these foods during preparation will minimize the risk posed to
human populations.
Historically AI outbreaks have occurred in Ireland. The last outbreak of HPAI (H5N8 subtype)
was in 1983. Multiple outbreaks of LPAI have occurred, especially through the 1990s. The
last outbreak of LPAI (H5N2 subtype) was in pheasants in County Cork in 2012. Outbreaks in
poultry may raise global public health concerns due to their effect on poultry populations,
their potential to cause serious disease in people, and their pandemic potential. Because of
the potential for serious public health risks, identification of the disease would lead to
significant restriction on international trade. In November 2014, HPAI has been found in
turkeys in Germany.
5. Blue Tongue
Bluetongue is a viral disease affecting domestic and wild ruminants including sheep, cattle,
goats and deer. It is a non-contagious infection transmitted by Culicoides midges. 24
serotypes of the virus are currently known, each of which can have differing virulence and
mortality rates. The virus is not known to be harmful to humans, but can cause considerable
damage to livestock populations. Outbreaks occur seasonally and the prevalence of the
disease is governed by ecological factors that favour insect survival, such as temperature,
humidity and soil temperature.
Until 2006 Bluetongue had only been recorded in southern regions of the EU - including
parts of Italy, Spain, France and Portugal. In August 2006 several Northern European
countries reported the first ever outbreaks of Bluetongue, including in the Netherlands,
Belgium, Germany and France. Further outbreaks were reported in 2007 and 2008 including
in the UK and Sweden. The serotype involved, BTV-8, was unique in the severity of disease
caused in cattle and goats. In addition trans-placental transmission was proven in cattle and
sheep. The disease became endemic in several countries until mass vaccination was
introduced using newly developed inactivated vaccines. An estimate of €30m has been
made for the total losses to the cattle and sheep industries in Belgium in 2007 (€25m to the
cattle industry and €5m to the sheep industry). Losses in sheep are due to ewe mortalities,
infertility treatment, feed costs as a result of housing and lost sale value. Losses in cattle
include culling, treatment, reduced milk yield, lost sale value and earlier calving.
The risk of introduction of vector-borne diseases is increasing as a result of global warming
and global trade. A vector monitoring programme carried out by DAFM in conjunction with
the University of Galway between 2007 and 2010 showed that potential Bluetongue vectors
are abundant and widely distributed in Ireland. Identification of the disease would lead to
significant restriction on international trade.
Inefficiencies associated with endemic diseases
1. Bovine Tuberculosis (TB)
Whilst there has been a significant and sustained reduction in TB disease levels since 2008,
the persistence of the disease has a significant negative impact of the output of the cattle
industry. Eradication is a significant challenge as the epidemiology of the disease is complex,
involving a wildlife source and being a chronic disease with little overt symptoms. It is
necessary to refine, target and intensify, in a balanced way, various interventions and
control measures – testing, movement control, wildlife interventions, badger vaccine
development - to sustain the drive towards eradication.
2. Other endemic diseases not subject to international regulation
Animal Health Ireland (industry led initiative)
The setting up in 2009 of Animal Health Ireland, an industry-led, State-assisted, not-forprofit organisation, is further testament to Ireland’s commitment towards maintaining our
excellent animal health status. AHI is tasked with pursuing effective control strategies for
economically important diseases of livestock, which are not subject to international
regulation and programmes of control. The losses associated with these diseases and
consequently the benefits accruing from addressing these diseases are primarily at farm
The key programmes currently operated by AHI are set out as follows:
(i) BVD
The industry-led national BVD eradication programme commenced its compulsory phase on
1 January 2013. At that point it became a legal requirement for farmers to take a tissue
sample, using the modified official identity tag, and to submit the sample for analysis to one
of the laboratories designated for that purpose. Calves born after that date which do not
provide a negative test result for BVD virus are prohibited from moving off the holding. The
experience of the first two years of the programme has been very encouraging. The rate of
compliance with the requirement to test for BVD has been almost complete, with just
fractionally less than 100% of calves born in those years having been tested for the disease.
By the end of September 2014, the number of Persistently Infected (PI) animals identified
had fallen by approximately 40% (to 8,494) and the number of infected herds had fallen by
approximately 42% (to 5,500), when compared to 2013. After 3 years of compulsory tissue
tag testing the objective will be to move to a less intensive monitoring phase with the
ultimate aim of achieving and confirming eradication by the year 2020. The savings accruing
to farmers as a result of eradication are estimated at €102 million per annum. Although the
definitive research required to establish the greenhouse gas savings arising from the
eradication of BVD remains to be completed in Ireland, preliminary estimates place this at
approximately €26m per annum. These environmental savings are additional to the €102
million farm level savings.
One potential threat to the success of the eradication programme is the retention of PI
animals on their holdings by a minority of farmers. This issue is being tackled by a variety of
means, including through a revised set of compensation measures, introduced by DAFM in
2014, and through a modification of the terms and conditions of the Bovine Genomics
Scheme. Together, these measures have resulted in a strong improvement in the rate at
which PI animals are being disposed of by farmers. The combined effects of the reduced
prevalence of BVD nationally and the increased rate of disposal of PIs have brought about a
significant reduction in ‘disease pressure’, with the number of PI animals born in 2014 and
remaining alive at the end of September standing at 2,126, compared to an analogous figure
for 2013 of 4,830.
(2) CellCheck (the national mastitis/S.C.C. reduction programme)
Mastitis reduces both milk yield and quality. Together, these factors erode the milk income
received by farmers and processors. In addition, antibiotic therapy used to treat udder
disease adds to dairy farmers’ costs and stress. CellCheck plays an important role in
enhancing the quality of the raw milk supply in Ireland, thereby improving profitability at
producer and processor level. The impact of mastitis on profitability has been borne out by
Teagasc research, carried out in support of the CellCheck programme, which has shown that
a 10% reduction in the national cell count would be worth €37.6 million to Irish dairy and
milk processors collectively. High SCC levels do not have to be accepted as an inevitable part
of dairy farming, and awareness is building among dairy farmers and within the industry that
mastitis control is both eminently achievable and sustainable over time. The solutions lie in
understanding that mastitis is multifactorial in nature; that prevention, through the
application of existing science and knowledge, is better than cure; and that a team-based
approach is most likely to deliver an effective, sustainable solution.
The CellCheck programme has developed several resources aimed at building the awareness
of farmers, service providers and the industry in relation to mastitis and is helping to bring
about a change of attitude in relation to this disease. These resources include training
programmes for service providers and farmers, a new CellCheck award for the 500 milk
suppliers nationally with the lowest SCC scores, mastitis reports for milk-recording herds,
cost calculators, and a wide variety of communications, including press articles, programme
documentation, newsletters and scientific publications. However, equally as important as
the work in developing programme resources is that of increasing the level of engagement
with industry partners, so as to identify the factors that enable change, and ensure that
suppliers are receiving clear, strong signals about the desired quality of raw milk produced in
Ireland. To this end, AHI, in conjunction with DAFM and ICBF, has established a national SCC
database, which brings together the SCC data from all milk suppliers nationally. This
database allows the establishment of national bulk milk SCC baseline figures and the
development of appropriate annual SCC reduction goals in conjunction with stakeholders.
3. Johne’s Disease
While it is probable that the current level of infection with Johne’s disease within the Irish
national herd is lower than that in many other countries, there is nonetheless a strong
rationale for the establishment of a structured control programme, which can allow dairy
and suckler farmers to manage the risk of the introduction and spread of the disease. For
the industry as a whole, a control programme helps mitigate the risk that the disease will
increase in prevalence at a time when the national herd is expanding, and it helps underpin
the quality of Irish dairy and beef produce in the domestic and international marketplaces.
Following several years of development work by the AHI Technical Working Group (TWG),
the Johne’s disease Implementation Group, chaired by AHI, agreed the commencement of a
significant pilot programme in October 2013. Some 1,900 dairy herds are currently enrolled
in the programme, the design of which was developed by the TWG, drawing on international
best practice for the control of the disease and on detailed disease modelling, carried out in
conjunction with international consultants. The pilot programme will test, evaluate and
refine the various programme components, including data handling, diagnostic and on-farm
advisory elements, and will support the carrying out of a cost-benefit analysis, with the
objective of establishing an evidence base for a possible future national control programme.
The principal components of the pilot programme consist of herd screening and a risk
assessment and management advisory visit. For the screening component, all animals in the
herd over 2 years of age at the date of enrolment must be tested by a designated laboratory
using either milk or blood samples. The risk assessment and disease management advisory
visit is a detailed on-farm review, carried out by an approved veterinary practitioner in
partnership with the farmer, to identify aspects of management that could predispose to the
introduction and spread of infection within the farm and to provide recommendations for
the reduction of these risks. Some 400 veterinary practitioners have been trained and
approved by AHI to carry out risk assessments on enrolled herds.
The Johne’s disease Technical Working Group (TWG) is currently developing a system to
quantify the level of confidence that any given herd participating in the programme with
negative test results is truly free of infection. This information, once developed, will be made
available to those individual programme participants who request it in respect of their own
herds. Aggregate, anonymised information on all participants in the programme will also be
made available to the TWG and Implementation Group to assist with the on-going
evaluation and refinement of the programme.
The cost of the screening within the pilot programme is met by the farmer, while DAFM is
providing the funding to support the veterinary on-farm risk assessment and participating
milk processors are contributing €100 to each enrolled supplier, to encourage participation.
4. IBR
The AHI Technical Working Group on IBR continues to work on building awareness in
relation to this important viral disease of cattle. A series of detailed information leaflets and
Frequently Asked Questions have been produced and published, including a document
relating to the preparation of dairy bull calves for use as AI sires. In parallel, AHI is preparing
the ground for a possible future eradication programme in Ireland, gathering information on
the programmes in place, or planned, in other European countries. A number of European
countries and regions have already established programmes which have been approved by
the European Commission, allowing them to seek additional guarantees in relation to the
IBR status of animals imported into their territories. AHI is also seeking to fill research gaps
in relation to this disease, particularly in relation to the economic aspects of the disease and
its control.
5. AHI Future Work
This will encompass existing work on biosecurity, calf health and parasite control (this last
with particular emphasis on the expansion of the slaughterhouse data capture project).
Consideration is also being given to a fertility programme for the beef herd.
Disease Challenges up to 2025
Notwithstanding the general high animal health status, animal disease is a significant risk to
and a source of inefficiency on Irish farms. Dealing with a biological hazard in particular, it is
very difficult to predict future trends in diseases with any degree of certainty. The
Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine will continue engage with the primary
stakeholders to pursue programmes designed to improve the disease status in relation to
endemic regulated and non regulated diseases and to guard against exotic disease events.
There is a need to recognise the benefits to be gained by focussing on improving animal
health, particularly at farm level, but also across the processing industry and indeed the
environment. Within the new RDP programme, a number of measure are planned which will
focus on supporting improvement initiatives – though knowledge transfer and targeted
animal health advisory supports.
In addition, DAFM is initiating the development of a national farmed animal health strategy
which will set out a framework for collective action by industry and government which will
guide initiatives and developments in the animal health area over coming years.