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Minister announces Genotyping Initiative

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced further measures worth up to €1.5 million to encourage greater participation in the National Genotyping Programme (NGP). The initiative involves the payment by the Department of a contribution towards laboratory testing costs (€12 per test for both male and female genotyped) together with compensation to those farmers where genotyped rams which are identified as the most susceptible to scrapie are slaughtered. The compensation rates to be paid are set out below.

The new arrangements will have immediate effect and the compensation payments will be backdated to cover genotyping carried out since 1 January 2006. The Minister confirmed that rams qualifying for compensation must be removed for slaughter before 1 September 2006 and that the total amount of compensation that can be paid to any one claimant in 2006 will be capped at €1,200.

Minister Coughlan said that the initiative was an integral part of the Department's ongoing drive to reduce and eradicate the incidence of scrapie in sheep and that increasing the genetic resistance of the flock is the biggest single factor in protecting sheep against scrapie.

The Minister said that more than 43,000 sheep had been genotyped since 2004 and she was encouraged by the significantly improved participation when a series of enhancements to the NGP were made late last year. Her Department would now embark on a vigorous campaign to encourage farmers to have their sheep genotyped and have those with the greatest susceptibility to scrapie removed from the breeding flock. This, she said, "would contribute significantly to achieving the overall objective of the NGP by increasing the level of resistance to scrapie among the Irish sheep flock by promoting the use of the most scrapie-resistant animals for breeding, i.e. ARR/ARR."

Minister Coughlan stated that there were compelling reasons for eradicating scrapie including animal health and welfare, improved productivity, consumer reassurance and trade protection. The recent reports of unusual profiles found in samples from sheep in France and Cyprus underlined the need to make further progress on scrapie here.

In conclusion, the Minister said that these particular measures were being introduced now pending decisions at EU level on continuation of the compulsory breeding programme. On this, she said that the EU Commission had asked the European Food Safety Authority to accelerate its assessment of this programme. The Minister expressed the hope that the various breed societies and farm bodies would work with her Department to encourage greater participation in the NGP.

The following rates of compensation will be paid in 2006
Pedigree Non-pedigree
Ram Lamb €350 -
Hogget Ram €500 €350
Older Ram €200 €150

Rams attracting the pedigree rate must be identified by indicating their pedigree identifier on the initial NGP application form. Otherwise, animals found carrying the VRQ allele will attract the non-pedigree rate.

15 March, 2006

Date Released: 15 March 2006