The office of the Attorney General has been called on to give the Department of Agriculture advice on the bill put forward to establish a national fertiliser database and a nationwide prescription database, the Department has confirmed to the Irish Farmers Journal.

The Department confirmed that the Data Protection Commissioner’s office has also been consulted as part of its efforts to ensure the veterinary medicinal products, medicated feed and fertilisers regulation bill 2022 is legally sound.

The bill will allow State agencies, such as Bord Bia, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the Veterinary Council of Ireland, to access farm-specific information on antibiotic and wormer usage.

Seeking advice

Advice has been sought from the Attorney General on “a number of matters” which were raised by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, but the Department did not state which aspects of the bill these matters relate to.

Farm organisations had voiced concerns to TDs and senators that meat and milk processors could use prescription information sourced from individual farmers to devalue farmers’ products.

They warned that the Department could also use farmers’ information to target them for inspection.

A January deadline is still being kept by the Department to pass the new rules through the Oireachtas and the bill is still with the joint committee for scrutiny, it was said this week.

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