Stating that the Department of Agriculture Regional Veterinary Laboratory services are highly regarded and a vital support for farmers throughout the country’, IFA Animal Health chairman Bert Stewart said the focus of the Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed and his officials must be ‘the enhancement of services to farmers in all regional sites’.

Bert Stewart said farmers have made enormous investment in improving the health status of the national herd which benefits the agri-sector and wider rural economy. IFA has consistently sought strong meaningful State diagnostic support in this area and the Minister must enhance this service for all farmers.

In the context of the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy which the Minister has embarked on, Bert Stewart said: “IFA met Department officials and highlighted to the Minister that any approach other than strengthening the diagnostic services provided by the State on all regional sites would be counterproductive”.

Farmers rely on the quality and independence of the service provided by the strategically located regional veterinary laboratory structure. “This structure facilitates the convenient and timely submission of samples by farmers and their vets when urgent, accurate and independent diagnosis of on-farm problems is required.”

Bert Stewart said that with increasing herd sizes, farmers will face different challenges and animal health issues that will require the support of their local regional veterinary laboratory. At a time when farmers are making huge investments in raising the health status of the national herd, the Department of Agriculture must increase the resources and the service provided through its very well located regional veterinary laboratories.

“DAFM veterinary laboratories, operating through their regional bases, are best equipped to provide these vital services to farmers. It is critical that the existing structures are maintained and built on to ensure they are fit for purpose and continue to deliver real value to farmers,” Mr Stewart said.