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Written Answers. - Sheep Flocks Depopulation.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 179. Mr. Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe  asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh  the number of flocks of sheep which have been depopulated with scrapie to date; the number of cases in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24583/02]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): Information on Joe Walsh Zoom on Joe Walsh A total of 106 flocks have been depopulated under my Department's scrapie eradication programme. The breakdown by county is as follows:

Wexford 43 Roscommon 3
Carlow 11 Laois 3
Wicklow 10 Waterford 3
Kilkenny 9 Galway 2
Tipperary 5 Cork 2
Westmeath 5 Longford 1
Kildare 4 Mayo 1
Offaly 3 Clare 1

[1036] A further four flocks are at present awaiting valuation.

A combination of factors, including in particular its increasing profile as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy in the same family of diseases as BSE, has led to a more pro-active approach to the eradication of scrapie from the national flock.

Against this background, and on the basis of continued scientific uncertainty about the effectiveness of alternative strategies for dealing with the disease, under current arrangements flocks in which a case of scrapie is confirmed are depopulated. In addition, those whose flocks are depopulated will not be permitted to re-stock with sheep for a period of two years from the date of depopulation. This policy is accompanied by a compensation package covering the capital cost of the sheep depopulated, and loss of profit for the period of two years during which re-stocking with sheep is not permitted, and for the third year in which re-stocking may commence.

Currently there are no EU rules in relation to the eradication of scrapie, and different approaches are taken by member states where scrapie is identified in a flock. However, recently the EU Commission presented proposals which, if agreed, would require member states to develop programmes for breeding TSE resistance into sheep and the slaughter of at least susceptible animals in flocks where scrapie is confirmed, with a further option of full depopulation. However, these proposals have not been fully adopted, partly because of recent results of UK studies which showed that resistant sheep could develop BSE when injected with infective material.

The emergence of horizontal rules across the EU on the control and eradication of scrapie will be taken into account in any review of the Irish policy. Indeed, I have indicated from the beginning of the depopulation policy the system would be reviewed in light of the results of its active surveillance programme and developments at EU level.

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