Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Questions (26, 27)

John Deasy

Question:

27 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food her views on whether all sheep farmers will have to participate in scrapie monitoring if they wish to compete with foreign markets in sheep production; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24434/04]

View answer

Michael Ring

Question:

31 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of sheep in the country; the number of these that have been scrapie monitored; when she expects the country’s full herd to be scrapie monitored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24435/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture and Food)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 31 together.

According to the 2003 CSO figures, the total number of sheep in the country is 6.8 million. There are 413 participants in the scrapie monitored flocks and, on the basis of an average flock size of 80 sheep, there are approximately 33,000 individual sheep in the scheme. In the past, only sheep from flocks which were participating in the scrapie monitored flock scheme met the export certification conditions for breeding sheep in so far as these relate to scrapie. More recently, EU legislation has been amended to allow sheep of specified genotypes to be traded within the EU without having to comply with scrapie monitoring conditions. Accordingly, flock owners who wish to compete on foreign markets have a choice in how to meet the certification conditions in so far as they relate to scrapie.

The EU has adopted genotyping and breeding from scrapie resistant sheep as the way forward to reduce the incidence of scrapie. My Department is encouraging flock owners to genotype their sheep through inter alia subsidisation of testing costs.