Agridirect.ie discusses the Government’s deferral of new wormer regulations until December 2022, and discusses the short-term benefit for farmers.
Let’s be honest. If national and international trends continue, many farmers will soon be priced out of existence. Unless we can be guaranteed a fair price for their produce, the costs of production, from fuel to fertiliser, will render many small farms financially untenable.
Good news in this respect is hard to come by. As the war in Ukraine rages on, there is little prospect of costs coming down in the near future. And while some prices – notably beef and hogget prices – may seem reasonable, any profits accrued to farmers are being undercut by the expense of production. It is, all told, an unprecedented situation for Irish agriculture.
That is why news of the deferral of wormer regulations until December feels like a small victory for farmers. While Minister McConalogue cited “supply chain issues” and the ongoing development of the software system for the National Veterinary Prescribing System as reasons for the deferral, the fact that these regulations will not take effect for another seven months can only be a relief to financially struggling farmers across the country.
Previously on this platform, we have outlined how wormer regulations will ultimately lead to a veterinary monopoly on the sale of animal medicines. And while we don’t have anything against vets, there is little doubt that such a monopoly will ultimately result in destructive price hikes for farmers. Speaking to Agridirect.ie last September, Hugh Farrell of the ICSA stated that the proposed regulations would mean “devastation for a lot of farmers”.
The majority of farmers seem to agree. When we ran a poll on this issue last year, 87.5% of farmers said they opposed the legislation. Those farmers who sent us their feedback cited financial burden as their primary reason for opposition to the new regulations.
Now you might argue that this deferral is nothing more than a stay of execution. And of course, you would be right. The Minister insists that the department intends to go ahead with the introduction of regulations in December. However, if farmers are opposed to the proposed changes, they might also see this delay as an opportunity to protest.
Now is not the time to add further financial levies on the agriculture sector. A middle ground around regulation needs to be found – one that doesn’t hit farmers in the pocket. The old adage states that it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Farmers are already suffering beneath the weight of far too many straws.
We could do without one more. At least for the time being.