ICSA Animal Health and Welfare Chair Hugh Farrell has reiterated the need for competition in the anti-parasitic market.
Mr Farrell, who addressed the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture last week, said that “competition is critical” when it comes to ensuring that farmers have access to anthelmintic doses which play an important role in animal health and thrive.
“We are very concerned that an unduly onerous and over-restrictive prescription only regime will be introduced, and we are fighting to ensure that we find workable solutions that keep product available at a fair price to farmers,” he said.
Mr. Farrell suggested that the Department of Agriculture must ensure that it does not bring in rules which are anti-competitive.
“ICSA believes that there is a risk that excessive amounts of bureaucracy and burdensome red tape is being imposed on the agri-food sector,” he said.
“While farmers are well aware of issues from the repeated use of one type of anthelmintic on cattle or sheep, this is exclusively a problem from the perspective of animal performance and health.
“ICSA believes that there is a real risk to competition in relation to anti-parasitic products which up to now have been sold by veterinary practitioners, licensed merchants including co-op shops and pharmacies”.
Mr. Farrell said the variety of outlets selling such products has been critical in ensuring fair prices for farmers.
“This is especially the case for generic products which usually offer far better value than the original patented products. Competition between outlets not only offers price benefits but also ensures that there are more pharmaceutical manufacturers competing to sell generic options,” he said.
“ICSA supports the position of the Licensed Merchants Association in seeking to ensure that practical solutions are found to deliver full competition”.
He added that a failure to ensure full competition in relation to anti-parasitics would further threaten the viability of farmers and potentially lead to the under use of products.
“This in turn would be contrary to the need for greater efficiencies in animal performance. Lower animal performance is contrary to the objective of finishing cattle and sheep at an earlier stage which is now a policy objective in terms of climate targets,” he concluded.