Vets have already been roped into the animal health and welfare planning part of the Knowledge Transfer discussion group scheme.
These plans must be overseen by a vet — and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has had to defend the cost burden this places on farmers, saying the payment to participating farmers of €160 reduces the veterinary fee they have to pay.
Vets will be among the main players in another upcoming Rural Development Programme scheme — the Targeted Veterinary Advisory Service, for which €6m of funding is expected.
It is expected to get under way following the completion by the Department of Agriculture of the relevant public procurement processes during 2015.
It is intended to deliver farm-specific advice by trained veterinary practitioners to individual farmers, to assist them to deal with specific animal health problems.
Health action plans would be jointly developed.
In the Rural Development Programme draft consultation paper on the RDP, the Department acknowledged the strong economic rationale for targeting and controlling animal diseases, such as BVD, dairy cow mastitis and Johne’s disease.
The rollout of Targeted Veterinary Advisory Services next year has also been welcomed by Veterinary Ireland, representing vets.
They say veterinary practitioners are ideally placed to advise farmers on the multifactorial nature of many disease conditions and syndromes, and deep knowledge and understanding of their clients‘ farming systems provides them with essential skills in design and implementation of on-farm disease control programmes.
Veterinary Ireland recommends that targeted advisory services initially focus on the core Animal Health Ireland priority areas of BVD, Johnes Disease, mastitis, and IBR — all of which require veterinary knowledge in the interpretation of diagnostic testing data, and selection and prescription of antimicrobial therapy for mastitis.
Veterinary Ireland sources believe that veterinary input will be required to expedite the eradication of BVD from Irish herds, including working with problem herds to combat retention of persistently infected BVD animals,.