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.