Farmers will be relieved that the introduction of a requirement for prescriptions for anti-parasitic treatments and medicated feed for livestock has been deferred until 1 June 2022, according to Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) animal health and welfare chair Hugh Farrell.

Farrell said the postponement of the new regulations, which were due to come into force 28 January 2022, followed “a concerted effort by ICSA, other farm organisations and the licensed merchants’ representatives who were against it”.

The Cavan suckler farmer was speaking following a meeting with the Department of Agriculture on Wednesday.

Valid prescription

Farrell added: “We have also succeeded in ensuring that the prescription shall be valid for one year, rather than an initial proposal of five days.

“This will entail the implementation of a National Veterinary Prescription System (NVPS) which will be based on an electronic app which will be used by veterinary practitioners.”

He said the ICSA has received “important clarification” that licensed merchants, registered pharmacies and vets will continue to sell anti-parasitic treatments such as wormers.

“Vets will be allowed to prescribe these on the basis of the active ingredient which ensures that all generic products will continue to be available

“In practice, the vet will issue the prescription and the farmer may choose to buy from the vet or bring the prescription elsewhere.”

Level playing pitch

The Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS) also welcomed the deferral on Wednesday.

ICOS livestock and environmental services executive Ray Doyle said the group had communicated “alarm” to the department regarding the full development and industry integration of the new National Veterinary Prescribing System (NVPS).

He said the deferral to June 2022 is “a reasonable accommodation around our concerns”.

“All we are seeking is a level playing pitch in relation to the intended purpose and implementation of the new regulation,” added Ray Doyle.

Doyle confirmed his understanding that the department and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) would meet over the coming weeks to discuss the offer of generics formulations in addition to alternative products to farmers after a prescription is issued.