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8. Animal Production/Products

CATTLE

CATTLE BREEDING

DIY A.I. LICENCES

Persons wishing to practice artificial insemination in their bovine herd must be appropriately trained and licensed and ensure that only semen from approved sources is used in the process. No person other than the herdowner, or his/her nominee, who has satisfactorily completed an approved programme of training in the practice of artificial insemination, can be approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to carry out the inseminations within that herd.

FIELD SERVICE LICENCES

Field Service Licence holders provide a year round quality bovine artificial insemination service (A.I.) to farmers through a network of trained A.I. technicians. Each Field Service Licence must:

  • Ensure that good veterinary practices and procedures are adhered to;
  • Utilise semen only from approved sources;
  • Maintain satisfactory records; and
  • Facilitate the recording, testing, genetic evaluation and publication of results of bulls used for test purposes.

A.I. TECHNICIANS LICENCES

The provision of a quality bovine A.I. service is ensured through the licensing of A.I. technicians employed by, or contracted to, Field Service Licence holders.

LICENCES TO DISTRIBUTE BOVINE SEMEN

Organisations or individuals must be appropriately licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to engage in the distribution of bovine semen thereby protecting animal health and welfare and traceability of the product.

APPROVAL OF BOVINE SEMEN STORAGE CENTRES

Premises where bovine semen is stored must meet specified EU standards and must be placed under the permanent supervision of a centre veterinarian approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Please note persons intending to apply for an approval for a bovine semen storage centre are advised to contact the Department at the outset so as to obtain full information on the approval process.

APPROVAL OF BOVINE SEMEN COLLECTION CENTRES

Premises where semen is collected must meet specified EU standards and must be placed under the permanent supervision of a centre veterinarian approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Please note persons intending to apply for an approval for a bovine semen collection centre are advised to contact the Department at the outset so as to obtain full information on the approval process.

APPROVAL OF BOVINE OVA/EMBRYO COLLECTION OR PRODUCTION TEAMS

Only teams approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the purpose of producing and or collecting bovine ovas/embryos can operate such a service.

ON-FARM COLLECTION OF BOVINE SEMEN

Herdowners can preserve the bloodline of their bovine herd by having semen collected from their own herd for use within their own herd. Applicants or their employees for on-farm collection must have a D.I.Y. A.I. licence to store semen and they can only store a quantity of semen (collected on-farm or otherwise) to the maximum allowed by his/her D.I.Y. A.I. licence.

Where an applicant does not have a D.I.Y. A.I. licence the semen collected on-farm must be stored in an approved centre and released only for use in his/her herd to a licensed A.I. company inseminator.

PRE-ENTRY HEALTH TESTS FOR BULLS TO A.I. CENTRES

The aim of the scheme is to ensure that bulls must pass a number of specified health tests before they can be allowed into an A.I. Centre.

Application Forms and further information on the above can be obtained from Livestock Breeding Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368293, Fax: 049 4361486

OTHER SERVICES

KERRY CATTLE PREMIUM SCHEME

The Scheme encourages the maintenance of a number of separate herds of Kerry Cattle in Ireland and the creation and maintenance of a sufficient reserve of pure bred breeding stock. An applicant is eligible to participate in the scheme if:

  • he or she is a member of the Kerry Cattle Society Ltd;
  • his or her herd is located within the territory of the State and contains at least five breeding females registered in the Herd book of the Kerry Cattle Society Ltd;
  • all Kerry cows in the herd are served by bulls of the Kerry breed, either by natural service or artificial insemination;
  • all progeny of Kerry cows in the herd are submitted for birth notification or registration in the Kerry Cattle Herd Book and are registered with ICBF and the Department through the Animal Events system; and
  • each animal, on which premium is being applied for, was born in the applicant's herd and is alive on the date of application.

A premium of €76.18 per eligible calf is payable.

HERD BOOKS APPROVALS

A herd-book is any book, register, file or data medium, which is maintained by a recognised organisation and in which animals are registered with reference to all their known ascendants.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the Competent Authority for granting approvals under this legislation subject to the applicant having complied with the criteria for approval.

Application Forms and further information on the above can be obtained from Livestock Breeding Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368293, Fax: 049 4361486

CENTRAL PERFORMANCE TESTING

The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) operates a bull performance testing station at Tully, Co Kildare. The primary objective of the service is to identify top quality beef bulls for progeny testing through A.I. The best of these are for widespread use through A.I by pedigree breeders as sires of replacement pedigree cows and as sires of stock bulls for use in commercial suckler herds. The test period lasts approximately 120 days during which the young bulls are fed and housed under uniform conditions. Bulls are assessed for growth rate, feed conversion, body measurements and conformation. The fees payable are available with the terms and conditions on request from ICBF.

Further information can be obtained from The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation, Highfield House, Bandon, Co Cork. Tel: 023 8820222 Fax: 023 8820229. Website: www.icbf.com

EU BEEF CARCASE CLASSIFICATION SCHEME

The aim of the Beef Carcase Classification Scheme is to ensure a common classification standard throughout the European Union. This enables the EU to operate a standardised beef price reporting system. From late 2004, most beef carcases are classified by mechanical means. Department licensed factory employees classify the balance.

The criteria for classifying are as follows:

  • Conformation (the shape and development of the carcase): is denoted by the letters E, U, R, O, P with E being the best and P the poorest;
  • Fat: the degree of fat is denoted by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in order of increasing fatness;
  • Sex category: denoted by the letters A (young bull), B (bull), C (steer), D (cow) and E (heifer).

Classification information is returned to the supplier by the slaughter plant. Over 90% of carcases are classified by machine. Machine classification makes use of Video Image Analysis to carry out various measurements of the carcase. As the determination of classification in this case is objective, no appeal is possible. In smaller plants, classification is carried out by factory employees who have been licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. In these cases, the supplier can appeal the decision of the classifier to the slaughter plant.

Further information can be obtained from Beef Classification Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan Business Centre, Portlaoise, Co Laois. Tel: 057 869 4407

LABELLING OF BEEF

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the competent authority for the purpose of implementing the regulations governing the labelling of beef and beef products.  

Under these regulations, operators and organisations involved in the marketing of beef must label beef so as to provide consumers with the following information:

  • A reference number or reference code permitting the identification of the animal or group of animals from which the beef was derived;
  • The approval number and country of the slaughterhouse - the indication should read: 'Slaughtered in (name of the Member State or third country) (approval number)';
  • The approval number and country of the de-boning hall - the indication should read: 'Cutting in; (name of the Member State or third country) (approval number)';
  • The Member State or third country where the animal was born, fattened and slaughtered (Origin).

The regulations also provide for a voluntary labelling scheme whereby operators wishing to provide supplementary information on labels may only do so subject to the approval of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 

Regulations were introduced in 2006, which extended beef labelling laws to the restaurant and catering sectors. The Health (Country of Origin of Beef) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 307 of 2006), require that a food business operator providing prepared beef to consumers shall not (a) advertise beef for sale or supply, (b) present it for sale or supply, or (c) sell or supply it unless the country or countries of origin of the beef is indicated at the point of advertising, presenting, sale and supply in clear legible type on the advertisement, menu or other presentation used. The regulations are being enforced by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Further details may be obtained from Meat and Milk Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel 01 607 2880.

MILK

MILK QUOTAS

The Milk Quota Regulations (SI 227/2008) provide for the payment of a levy, known as the "super levy", on milk deliveries in excess of Ireland's annual national quota. The liability of individual producers who have exceeded their quota, which is expressed in terms of volume and fat content, is established after the reallocation of unused quota.

The following quota allocation schemes are operated in accordance with rules set down by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food:

Milk Quota Trading Scheme - operated in advance of the relevant milk quota year.
The Milk Quota Trading Scheme is the principal means by which additional milk quota is acquired by producers. The scheme is operated by the Department but is run on a Co-op area basis. It is comprised of a priority pool and a market exchange. Under the scheme, producers are afforded the opportunity to sell and buy quota. A maximum of 30% of the quota offered for sale in a given Co-op area is made available to priority category producers at a price set by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The remainder is traded on the market exchange at a Market Clearing Price, which is calculated on the basis of the volumes and prices specified by buyers and sellers.

Temporary Leasing Scheme - operated during the milk quota year.
Under the Temporary Leasing Scheme producers can offer to lease the part of their quota which they consider they will not use during the current milk quota year into their co-operative's/dairy's pool. A person may lease more than 80% of his/her quota into the pool only when he/she has been granted permission to do so by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food due to the exceptional circumstances of his/her case. Active producers who require additional quota for that year can apply to temporarily lease quota from the pool. The period of lease expires in each case on 31 March, i.e. the end of the milk quota year.

Reallocation of Unused Quota - administered after the end of the milk quota year.
In the event of an excess of production over quota at national level, unused quota is reallocated to eligible over-quota producers. This system is known as "flexi-milk".

In addition, a scheme for the allocation of additional milk quota from the National Reserve is operated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Applications on the grounds of Hardship and Animal Disease are assessed by the Milk Quota Appeals Tribunal, which makes recommendations to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

The detailed criteria for the operation of these schemes are determined by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and are announced in the national media.

Details of the arrangements are also available to producers at their co-operatives/dairies, on request from Meat and Milk Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 Tel: 01 6072857 or on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie

MILK PRODUCTION PARTNERSHIPS

The Milk Quota Regulations have, since 2002, facilitated the establishment of Milk Production Partnerships (MPPs), and the rules governing the operation of MPPs were significantly altered in 2008 in order to make participation more attractive. Partnerships must consist of at least one milk producer, but may include other, i.e. non-dairy, farmers, new entrants farming in partnership with a parent who is a milk producer, and farm managers.

Further details may be obtained from Meat and Milk Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 or Tel. 01-6072857.

Participants must register their MPP with Teagasc, Dairy Partnership Registration Office, Fermoy, Co. Cork. Tel. 025-42312.

The detailed rules governing the Scheme are available from both sources, and from the Department's website: www.agriculture.gov.ie

NEW ENTRANTS SCHEME

As part of the so-called 'Health Check' agreement in November 2008, the Council of Agriculture Ministers agreed to increase Member States' milk quotas annually by 1 per cent over the period 2009 to 2013. The first two of these increases came into effect on 1 April 2009 and 1 April 2010. In each case the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food decided to allocate one quarter (0.25%) of the increase on a permanent basis to new entrants to dairying. A decision on whether a similar scheme will be implemented in 2011 will not be made until early 2011.

DAIRY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMME

Following the Health Check agreement, article 68(1) of Council Regulation (EC) 73/2009 makes provision for the use of unspent Single Payment Scheme funds to address specific disadvantages affecting farmers in the dairy sector. A total of €6 million will be made available in each of 2010, 2011 and 2012 to support a Dairy Efficiency Programme that will encourage efficiency gains on dairy farms through the adoption of best practice in relation to grassland management, breeding and financial management via participation in discussion groups.

Full details are available from Meat and Milk Policy Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2 or Tel. 01-6072262 and on the Department's website: www.agriculture.gov.ie

EU STANDARDS FOR DAIRY FARMS AND FOR MILK SOLD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION

The hygiene and public health protection rules for the production and processing of milk and dairy products are set out in a series of EU Regulations, commonly know as the Hygiene Package. They lay down standards for everything from the production of raw milk on farms to the packaging and labelling of finished dairy products leaving the processing establishments.

DAIRY INSPECTION FEE

Under the Milk (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1979, a levy is payable on all milk purchased for processing. The levy is intended to cover the cost of the Department's inspection regime within the dairy sector. The rate of levy currently stands at 0.1 cent per litre.

Further information can be obtained from Milk and Meat Hygiene/ABP Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise. Tel: 057 8694356. The Section's web-pages can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie

SHEEP

SHEEP BREEDING

BREED IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES

Sheep Ireland is responsible for sheep breeding. It commenced operation in 2008, with the funding provided by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It has an industry based decision making structure and a database to meet the information needs of the sheep breeding sector, and the wider industry. It has developed structures for sheep breeding in Ireland along similar lines to that achieved by ICBF for cattle breeding. Contact www.sheepireland.com for further information.

LICENCE TO PRACTICE ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION AND EMBRYO TRANSFER IN SHEEP

The practice of Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer in sheep is prohibited except under licence issued by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under the Disease of Animals Act, 1966 (Foot and Mouth Disease) (Control on Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer in Sheep) Order, 2001, (S.I. No. 381 of 2001).

Licences to practice artificial insemination and embryo transfer in sheep may be granted only to registered veterinary surgeons.

APPROVED OVINE SEMEN COLLECTION CENTRES

Ovine semen collection centres are regulated under the European Communities (Trade in Animals and Animal Semen, Ova and Embryos) Regulations, 1996 (S.I. No. 12 of 1996). Trade in ovine semen must be carried out in accordance with these Regulations.

Please note persons intending to apply for an approval for an ovine semen collection centre are advised to contact the Department at the outset so as to obtain full information on the approval process.

APPROVED OVINE SEMEN STORAGE CENTRES

Premises where ovine semen is stored must meet specified EU standards. The centre must be placed under the permanent supervision of a centre veterinarian approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

Please note persons wishing to apply for an approval for an ovine semen storage centre are advised to contact the Department at the outset so as to obtain full information on the approval process.

PURE-BRED SHEEP AND GOAT FLOCK-BOOK

A Flock Book is any book, register, file or data medium, which is maintained by a recognised organisation and in which ovines and caprines are registered with reference to all their known ascendants. The operation of a flock-book is regulated under the European Communities (Pure-Bred Sheep and Goat Flock-Book) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 16 of 1994).

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the Competent Authority for granting approvals under this legislation subject to the applicant having complied with the criteria for approval.

Application Forms and further information on the above can be obtained from Livestock Breeding Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368293, Fax: 049 4361486

LAMB CARCASE CLASSIFICATION

Council Regulation 2137/92 sets the goal of making the use of the EU grid compulsory for all EU approved slaughterhouses. Commission Regulation (EC) No 1249/2008 of 10 December 2008 lays down detailed rules on the implementation of the Community scales for the classification of beef, pig and sheep carcases and the reporting of prices thereof.

Lamb carcases are classified by assessment of:

  • Conformation (the shape and muscle development of the carcase), denoted by the letters E, U, R, O, P with E being the best and P the poorest;
  • Fat: the degree of fat, denoted by the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in order of increasing fatness.

A lamb carcase classification scheme in full accordance with the EU grid is in operation in the vast majority of export approved lamb slaughter plants.

Further information can be obtained from Livestock Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Pavilion A, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois, Telephone: 057-8694405

GRASSLAND SHEEP SCHEME

This new Scheme, which has a total budget of €54 million, will operate for three years: 2010, 2011 and 2012. This funding, which comes from the unused Single Payment funds, will provide a very important and timely boost to support incomes in the sheep sector over the next three years.

The Scheme has been kept administratively simple, which will facilitate the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in making payments very shortly after the commencement date of 1 December 2010 (the commencement date for making payments under this Scheme in accordance with the provisions of the relevant EU Regulations). Farmers will find participating in the Scheme relatively easy, the three requirements being to:

  • Maintain ewes;
  • Complete the Sheep Census return; and
  • Have submitted the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) application form by the closing date which was the 17th May 2010.

The ewe numbers eligible for inclusion in the 2010 scheme will be based on the numbers as declared in the 2009 Sheep Census. The ewe numbers eligible for inclusion in the 2011 scheme will be based on the average of the ewe numbers as declared in the 2009 and 2010 Sheep Census and the numbers eligible for inclusion in the 2011 scheme will be based on the average of the ewe numbers as declared in the 2010 and 2011 Sheep Census.

Applicants must maintain sheep on an ongoing basis to retain eligibility for the 2011 and 2012 schemes, i.e. he/she has to have sheep to declare in their 2011 and 2012 Sheep Census Sheep Returns.  Applicants must also submit an Single Payment Scheme (SPS) application each year to be eligible for the Scheme. The rate payable per hectare will be based on the number of 2010 SPS eligible hectares declared or area deemed eligible for payment, whichever is the lower, using two stocking densities as follows:

  • 2.5 ewes per hectare for Mountain Type Grazing Land (as defined under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme);
  • 7 ewes per hectare for all other lands (including Most Severely, Less Severely Disadvantaged Area and non-Disadvantaged Areas).

The maximum area payable per Scheme-year is 84 hectares in respect of Mountain Type Grazing and 30 hectares for all other lands. The indicative rates of aid are as follows:

  • Mountain Areas (0 to 20 hectares) : €30 per hectare;
  • Mountain Areas (20 to 84 hectares): €25 per hectare;
  • Lowland Areas: €70 per hectare.

The additional payment (total payable €100) is in recognition of the difficulties facing hill sheep farming. The supply of lambs is a key and fundamental element underpinning the sheep and lamb processing industry.  This is a hugely valuable export-orientated part of the Irish agri-food sector, supplying a high-value product to consumer markets throughout Europe.  The industry is worth around €250 million to the Irish economy and over two thirds of the product is exported.

PIGS

PIG BREEDING

APPROVED PORCINE SEMEN COLLECTION CENTRES

Porcine semen collection centres are regulated under the European Communities (Trade in Porcine Semen-Animal Health) Regulations, 1993 (S.I. No. 242 of 1993). Trade in porcine semen can only be carried out in accordance with these Regulations.

Please note persons intending to apply for an approval for a semen collection centre are advised to contact the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the outset so as to obtain full information on the approval process.

BREEDING PIG HERD-BOOK AND REGISTER

Department approval for an organisation to maintain a herd-book or register is granted under the European Communities (Breeding Pig Herd-Book and Register) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 151 of 1994).

Application Forms and further information on the above can be obtained from Livestock Breeding Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368293, Fax: 049 4361486

PIG CARCASE GRADING

The EU system of grading pig carcases is implemented in Ireland by the Pig Carcase (Grading) Regulations, 1988 to 2001. All pig slaughter plants, where, on average over the course of a year, more than 200 pigs are killed per week, must grade pig carcases in accordance with their lean meat content. Grading must be carried out in accordance with one of the methods approved by the EU Commission for use in Ireland. Grade shall be indicated on the skin of the shank or ham by a number being the estimated lean meat content or the corresponding grade letter. The purpose of the grading system is to facilitate transparency in the area of pricing and to assist fair payment based on carcase quality. The operator of a slaughter plant must give to pig suppliers a statement showing, in respect of each pig, the carcase number, carcase weight, estimated percentage lean meat content and the total price paid.

PIG SALMONELLA CONTROL SCHEME

The purpose of this programme is to reduce any possible risk of public health problems arising from the consumption of pork and pigmeat products. A new programme commenced on 1 January 2010 which covers all aspects of the food chain. Under the revised programme, underpinned by the Diseases of Animals Act 1966 (Control of salmonella in swine) Order 2009, all pig producers supplying more than 200 pigs for slaughter in the previous 12 months must have an on- farm salmonella control plan in place and must establish a salmonella prevalence for their herd. Additional measures apply for breeding herds.

Further information on the above services can be obtained from Meat and Milk Policy Division,Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 6072735

MEAT HYGIENE

CLEAN LIVESTOCK POLICY

The Hygiene Package, which came into force in all European Union Member States on 1 January 2006, provides the following in relation to cleanliness of livestock being presented for slaughter:

Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004
Food business operators rearing animals or producing primary products of animal origin are to take adequate measures, as appropriate and as far as possible to ensure the cleanliness of animals going to slaughter and, where necessary, production animals.

Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004
Food business operators operating slaughterhouses must have HACCP-based intake procedures to guarantee that each animal or, where appropriate, each lot of animals accepted onto the slaughterhouse premises is clean. In the event of failure to comply with any of the requirements the food business operator must notify the official veterinarian and take appropriate measures.

Regulation (EC) No. 854/2002
The official veterinarian is to verify compliance with the food business operators' duty under Regulation (EC) No 853/2004; to ensure that animals that have such hide conditions that there is an unacceptable risk of contamination of the meat during slaughter are not slaughtered for human consumption unless they are cleaned beforehand.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food requires food business operators at slaughtering establishments to categorise as follows:

A - Cattle that can be slaughtered, without an unacceptable risk of contaminating the meat during the slaughter process by using the standard hygienic dressing procedures routinely employed by the plant;  

B - Cattle that can only be slaughtered without an unacceptable risk of contamination of the meat during the slaughter process, by putting in place extra defined hygienic dressing controls;  

C - Cattle unfit for slaughter because of hide condition. These cattle must not be presented for ante mortem and it is the responsibility of the Food Business Operator (FBO) to take the required remedial action with regard to these cattle.

The Department has also actively publicised the requirements for primary producers to ensure that animals being sent for slaughter are clean as well as guidance in that regard. This approach has included publication of articles in the farming press, information leaflets and mail shots to producers who may have supplied animals that were categorised as less than fully compliant with the required level of cleanliness.

MEAT HYGIENE LEGISLATION

The European Community's food and feed hygiene legislation (The Hygiene Package) came into effect across all Member States from 1 January 2006. The Hygiene Package revises and consolidates legislation in relation to food and feed hygiene along with the production, control and marketing of products of animal origin and animal health issues in relation to the production of those products.

The Hygiene Package was motivated by the necessity to ensure high levels of public health protection in relation to food production. The Package also simplifies the range of complicated and often overlapping legislation that had evolved in this area over the past 30 or so years. The underlying philosophy is that food producers should bear full responsibility for the safety of the food they produce.

The Hygiene Package was given further effect in Irish law by the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 910 of 2005). These regulations have been updated and replaced by the European Communities (Food and Feed Hygiene) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 432 of 2009).

The regulations require food business operators that are primary producers of food products to apply for registration and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is a registering authority for this purpose.

APPROVAL OF MEAT ESTABLISHMENTS

A food business operator, who wishes to carry out an activity that requires approval, should apply to the appropriate registering authority. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the registering authority for high-throughput establishments. Before an establishment can use an identification mark on any of its product, it must be approved by a registering authority.

The Department's Veterinary Public Health Inspection Service (VPHIS) supervises high throughput establishments engaged in the slaughter of animals and the processing of meat products, minced meat and meat preparations. VPHIS carries out inspections of applicant establishments in order to verify the compliance of the Food Business Operator (FBO) with the hygiene legislation before recommending approval by the Department. These very detailed Hygiene Package inspections are carried out in addition to the regular public health monitoring and inspections that are a daily part of the remit of the VPHIS.

The scientific examination of meat and meat products is carried out at the Department's Central Meat Control Laboratory, Backweston Campus, Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Tel: 01-6157368

Further information on the approval process can be obtained from Meat Hygiene Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Grattan Business Centre, Dublin Road, Portlaoise. Tel: 057 8694101. The Section's web-pages can be found at www.agriculture.gov.ie

POULTRY AND EGGS

POULTRY HATCHERIES AND HATCHING EGG SUPPLY FARMS

All poultry hatcheries engaged in the production of day old chicks, turkey poults or ducklings for the production of table birds or the replacement of laying flocks must be licensed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Only hatching eggs obtained in accordance with a permit issued by the Department may be incubated at a licensed poultry hatchery. All breeding stock at supply farms must be obtained from approved breeding sources and are subject to inspection and blood-testing to ensure freedom from serious poultry disease.

All poultry hatcheries and supply farms involved in EU trade in live poultry and hatching eggs require approval from the Department. Each consignment for export must be inspected and accompanied by the relevant health certificate.

POULTRYMEAT MARKETING

Poultrymeat marketed in the EU must be classified as class A or class B in accordance with its quality and be packed, labelled, transported and presented for sale in accordance with the requirements of EU and national legislation governing the marketing standards for poultry. The amount of absorbed water in poultry must fall below specified limits. Poultrymeat may be marketed as 'free range', 'barn reared', 'traditional free range' or 'free range - total freedom', or contain a reference to the feed ration used, provided certain criteria are met. Producers and slaughterhouses wishing to use these terms are required to register with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and keep appropriate records and are subject to official Department inspections.

EGGS MARKETING REGULATIONS

Table eggs marketed in the EU must be graded by quality and weight and be packed, labelled, stored, transported and presented for sale in conformity with EU and national legislation on the marketing standards for eggs. Eggs must be marketed and packed in a registered egg-packing centre. All registered packing centres are given a distinguishing number and are required to pay an annual fee in respect of their registration. Egg packs must indicate the farming method and bear a 'best before' date. This date is 28 days after laying but the latest date by which eggs must be sold to the consumer is 21 days after laying. Incubated eggs may not be sold for human consumption.

Eggs may be marketed under the terms 'cage', 'free range', 'barn' or 'organic' provided the applicable requirements of the legislation have been met. Producers and packers using these terms and indications must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and comply with relevant legislation.

HORSES

STUD-BOOK APPROVAL

A stud-book is any book, register, file or data medium which is maintained by a recognised organisation, and in which equines are entered or registered with reference to all their known ascendants. The operation of a stud book is regulated by the European Communities (Equine Stud-Book and Competition) Regulations, 2004 (S.I. No. 399 of 2004), as amended by the European Communities (Equine Stud-book and Competition) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 530 of 2007).

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is the Competent Authority for granting approvals under this legislation subject to the applicant having complied with the criteria for approval.

Application Forms and further information on the above can be obtained from Livestock Breeding Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368293, Fax: 049 4361486

HORSE REGISTRATION

European Commission Regulation No. 504/2008 sets out the system for the identification for equidae and is binding on all Member States of the European Union.

All keepers of horses, passport issuing bodies and veterinary practitioners are obliged to comply with the provisions of this Regulation. This enhanced system for identifying equidae has three elements:

  • an equine passport;
  • a microchip implanted in an equine to create an unequivocal link between the passport and the equine; and
  • the assignment of a unique equine life number to the equine in the database of the approved passport issuing organisation.

Regulation 504/2008 requires that all equines must have a passport. Foals must be identified in accordance with the Regulation within six months of birth.

Equines cannot be considered for slaughter for human consumption unless they have a passport.

Contact details for organisations currently approved by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to issue identity documents for equines are available on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie

Further information can be obtained from Equine Infrastructures/State Bodies Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368291, Fax: 049 4361486 or E-mail: equineinfrastructures@agriculture.gov.ie   

HORSE SPORT IRELAND

Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) is the governing body for the sport horse industry and is responsible for devising and implementing strategies for the development and promotion of an internationally competitive Irish sport horse industry, covering breeding, sport and leisure activities. It maintains the Irish Horse Register, which incorporates the Irish Sport Horse Studbook and the Irish Draught Horse Studbook. The Board of Directors of HSI includes representatives from the International Equestrian Federation, sport/leisure organisations and the Irish Horse Board (IHB). An independent chairman is nominated by the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

For further details on Horse Sport Ireland contact: Horse Sport Ireland, 1st Floor, Beech House, Millennium Park, Osberstown, Naas, Co. Kildare. Tel: 045 854744 e-mail: info@horsesportireland.ie  

IRISH HORSE BOARD

The Irish Horse Board Co-operative Society Ltd', was established in 1993. It acts as an advisory sub Board within Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) on issues relating to stud book and breeding policy.

For further details on The Irish Horse Board and application forms for membership, contact: The Irish Horse Board, Beech House, Millennium Park, Naas, Co Kildare Tel: 045 854744 email ihb@ihb.ie website: www.irishsporthorse.com

DEVELOPMENT OF THE HORSE INDUSTRY

NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (NDP) 2007-2013

Grant aid is provided under the NDP to organisations for projects approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, aimed at supporting improvements in quality equine breeding and also in the infrastructure within which the thoroughbred and non-thoroughbred horse sectors operate. Some measures operated under the NDP are administered by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in conjunction with the Horse Sport Ireland, (HSI).

Aid focuses on:

  • Quality non-thoroughbred horse production - work on the formulation of genetic indices for stallions, blood sampling/DNA testing to verify pedigree, up-grading of equine registration systems and for the promotion and marketing of non-thoroughbred horses;
  • Quality thoroughbred horse production - initiatives in the areas of education, training and promotion in respect of equine health and husbandry, stud management and safety, nutrition and quality breeding;
  • Research into equine diseases and breeding and the capital cost of buildings and equipment to facilitate the delivery of enhanced diagnostic and ancillary services at the Irish Equine Centre;
  • Data collection and analysis leading to the generation of information to underpin improvements in the genetic quality in the non-thoroughbred sector. Support for education and training opportunities to satisfy the needs of new entrants and those already involved in the equine and related industries.

Detailed information on equine NDP schemes is available on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie/equine_ndp

Further information can be obtained from Equine Infrastructures Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Farnham Street, Cavan. Tel: 049 4368291, Fax: 049 4361486 E-mail: equineinfrastructures@agriculture.gov.ie