Vet medicines decision shocks NFU

UK - The NFU has reacted with dismay to today’s vote in the European Parliament taking away the right of farmers to buy certain animal medicines without the need for a veterinary prescription.
calendar icon 18 December 2003
clock icon 3 minute read
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MEPs voted against the inclusion of an amendment into new EU legislation on animal medicines that would have retained farmers’ right to buy vitamins, minerals, wormers and certain vaccines from non-veterinary sources.

In an eleventh hour change of position, the UK government withdrew its support for the amendment – leading to criticism from the NFU.

Today’s vote would mean that, in future, it is farmers must contact a vet each time these basic medicines are needed.

The UK is one of only a handful of countries where such products can be distributed through trained dispensers. The NFU has been working extremely hard with the Animal Health Alliance to try to ensure that UK farmers keep their right.

NFU Deputy President Tim Bennett, who was at the Parliament today, said: “We’re very disappointed that this amendment has been thrown out at the last hurdle.

“We’re particularly concerned that Defra changed its position at the last minute.

“This runs counter to the spirit of the “partnership approach“ put forward in the government’s own Animal Health and Welfare Strategy.“

Today’s vote is a major blow as the amendment had been adopted by the Parliament at the first reading earlier in the year.

The NFU now wants domestic legislation to re-classify such medicines and allow them to continue to be supplied by registered, qualified agricultural merchants, as recommended by the Marsh Committee on animal medicines last year.

Mr Bennett added: “Such legislation must now be a priority of the government and we are writing to Defra ministers to make this point. MEPs from all UK parties were very supportive of the NFU position and voted for the amendment. The withdrawal of support from the UK government has been very disappointing.“

Source: National Farmers Union - 17th December 2003

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