Any closures of Regional Veterinary Laboratories around the country proposed under a Department of Agricultural review would be a huge blow to farmers at a time when the sector is under pressure and must not be allowed to happen.
Currently here are six regional labs in Athlone, Cork, Cellbridge, Kilkenny, Limerick and Sligo and the Department are undertaking a review of the service and there is a fear in the farming community that the centres at Limerick …Kilkenny and Sligo (which deals with farners in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo) will close, leaving Cellbridge, Athlone and Cork to deal with the businesss of the entire country. There have already been protests by farmers in Kilkenny and Limerick as fears about the closure of these labs around the country grow while Department officials are due in Sligo this week.
It must be remembered that 85% of the suckler herd is situated west of a line from Donegal down to Clare, and that this service is a very important one for farmers in the west and midlands of the country in particular and I will strongly resist any plans to close down regional labs which provide a vital service to the farming community. Any idea that the entire service would be confined to just three labs is totally unacceptable and unworkable. Instead of planning to reduce this service we should be seeking to expand it to cope with the many challenges that are facing the farming community now and into the future,
It makes absolutely no sense to be reducing a valuable service like this one and I will be raising this issue as a matter of urgency with Minister Creed this week.