Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed has today launched a 10-year plan for the development of the Department’s regional laboratories.

The development plan will consist of an estimated capital investment of €33.5m in rebuilding the laboratory network, with ease of access to services one of the key concerns. On completion of the plan in 2028, over 98% of registered herd owners will be within a one-hour drive of a regional laboratory.

The investment comes as part of Project Ireland 2040, and will progress in five incremental stages over the next decade, commencing with the establishment of a helpline and the first two carcase transfer centres before the end of 2020.

This will be followed by the replacement of existing facilities in Kilkenny and Sligo plus the establishment of enlarged laboratories in Co Cork and in Athlone. Two laboratories: the Blood Testing Laboratory and the Dairy Science Laboratory in Cork have been merged into one entity.

Greater accessibility

IFA animal health chair Pat Farrell said the new proposal will bring 98% of herd owners within 65km of a centre, making the network more accessible for farmers.

“The centres in Cork and Athlone will be upgraded and have staff with expertise to provide world-class diagnostic service, specialising in the types of animals in their respective areas, enhancing the levels of specialist diagnostic advice to farmers.”

Farrell said the proposed changes to the locations for the Cork and Limerick labs by 2026 will need to be given very careful consideration.

“Under no circumstances can the service to farmers in these areas be diminished,” said Farrell.

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