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Creed Launches the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy 2017-22

National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy 2016-21 also launched

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., today launched the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy 2017-22.  The Strategy sets out a comprehensive set of actions for all stakeholders in the agri-food industry to work in partnership to achieve optimal animal health in Ireland. 

The Minister said:  “The National Farmed Animal Health Strategy is a significant initiative.  Livestock production is at the heart of our agri-food industry and contributes hugely to the development of our Regions.  Healthy animals produce and compete to their best potential.

Prevention of disease minimises financial losses to farmers, the broader agri-food industry and the country.  Upholding Ireland’s reputation for good animal health is vital to our ongoing efforts to secure access to the world’s markets. At a broader societal level, zoonotic infections in animals and the avoidable use of antibiotics in animals may impact on public health.  Less than optimal animal health can also negatively affect the environment.”

Minister Creed continued “This Strategy has identified five high-level outcomes to be achieved. These focus on farm-level productivity; processor outcomes; market access; capacity to protect public health and capability to anticipate threats, mitigate risk and respond. My Department will play a pivotal coordination and leadership role, but the success of the strategy will depend on all stakeholders working together closely”.

The Minister recalled: “In recent years Ireland has made excellent progress with country-free status for Brucellosis and Aujezsky’s disease, control of BSE and a substantial reduction in the incidence of TB.  Animal Health Ireland, in partnership with industry stakeholders, is making substantial progress on BVD eradication and in improving milk quality with a focus on Somatic Cell Count reduction through the CellCheck programme. Additionally a new Johne’s Disease Control Programme is being developed and progressed. However, we must be mindful of ongoing threats to animal health, including the emergence of Schmallenberg virus and the resurgence of Bluetongue and Avian Influenza viruses across Europe”.

Minister Creed also launched the National Animal Health Surveillance Strategy 2016-21, one of the actions set out in the Health Strategy.

The Minister said:  “Increasing movement of people, animals and animal by-products around the world and changing farming practices mean it is inevitable that diseases are seen in parts of the world where they have never been seen before. Understanding the movement and early identification of threats is vital. The Animal Health Surveillance Strategy provides for the coordination of animal health surveillance activities.”

In relation to the Farmed Animal Health Strategy, the Minister said:  “I am pleased today to announce funding of €125, 000 to support and enable Animal Health Ireland to commence work in the area of pig health.  AHI’s involvement has the potential to greatly complement my Department’s work on control of zoonotic infections and the use of antimicrobial products in pig herds.  I am looking forward to seeing further strides being made in export markets by our pig industry in the years ahead.”

Welcoming the expansion in live trade, which gives an important competitive edge to the cattle trade in Ireland, but has also given rise to concerns being expressed about distances travelled within countries of destination, and slaughter methods employed, the Minister announced the approval of additional multiannual financial support for the World Organisation for Animal Health in relation to their capacity building activities relating to the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter  in third countries and long distance transport.

Minister Creed highlighted that antimicrobial resistance is a further priority: “Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) remains a major risk to public health. The most significant way to reduce AMR is to reduce antibiotic usage which will flow from a healthy animal population.” 

The Minister went on to say:  “I am delighted to announce that Dr. Noel Cawley, Chairman of Teagasc, has agreed to chair the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy Review Body which will independently monitor the development and implementation of actions arising from the Strategy.   Dr. Cawley, with his broad experience, is particularly well qualified to lead on this important role.

The Minister also thanked all stakeholders who provided submissions in the consultation stage of the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy in October.

The Minister concluded: “My Department continues to work hard to prepare for Brexit and its potential trade implications for the agri-food and fisheries sectors. These health and surveillance strategies will play a vital part in our ongoing efforts to enhance Ireland’s reputation for high standards of animal health and to continue to expand our markets abroad”.

To view this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 132/2017 (pdf 372Kb) 

Date Released: 11 July 2017