The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has made 19 key recommendations to a proposed government bill that will introduce significant changes to the regulation of veterinary medicine and the registration of fertilisers in Ireland.
The introduction of the legislation will have a major impact on the retailing of veterinary medicinal products and will also provide the framework for the introduction of a national fertiliser database.
The Veterinary Medicinal Products Medicated Feed and Fertilisers Regulation Bill 2022 had been expected to be in place by December 1, but deputy Jackie Cahill, cathaoirleach of the joint Oireachtas committee, said it is likely to be closer to December 17.
The bill will repeal the Animal Remedies Act 1993 and modernize the legislation that governs veterinary medicine and also amend the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act 1955.
The proposed bill would also align Ireland to European Union (EU) regulations.
In particular, the introduction of the proposed national fertiliser database would ensure Ireland’s eco-scheme is in line with a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) initiative – “that rewards farmers for undertaking actions beneficial to the climate, environment, water quality and biodiversity”.
The committee today (Thursday, November 17) published its report on its pre-legislative scrutiny of the proposed new regulation bill.
Timetable for legislation is tight
Deputy Cahill said the 19 recommendations the joint committee has put forward are necessary to “enhance and strengthen the proposed legislation”.
But he warned that the timetable for the legislation is “tight” and that a deadline of January 1, 2023 is looming.
The committee’s reports highlights a number of its concerns regarding the proposed new regulation bill and deputy Cahill warned that implementation of the bill in its current form would have a “myriad of effects”.
“The committee is concerned of the potential lack of market competition that this bill could create with regards to the dispense of veterinary products and the possible impact of cross-border trade under different regulatory regimes,” he said.
“It is imperative that farmers are in a position where they can continue to look after the health and welfare of their animals and make a viable living as they move towards more environmentally friendly practices,” deputy Cahill said.
He also warned that there were heightened concerns from many different sources regarding the sharing of data on a proposed national veterinary prescription system and whether third parties would have access to this information.
One other key area of which the committee is seeking clarification is in relation to “the ability to purchase fertiliser” paricularly in Northern Ireland and move it unrecorded throughout the island.
Deputy Cahill said it is likely that the creation of a national fertiliser base will create more red tape and bureaucracy for farmers. He said there was also an issue that some farmers might be “not be technically literate” and would have to rely on consultants to fill out applications.