Good animal health underpins livestock farming and the agri food industry, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has said ahead of Animal Health Awareness Week 2020.

Next week, the Department will host a range of events to highlight animal health with webinars, podcast appearances and a social media campaign, as well as interviews and advertisements on local radio and the distribution of leaflets and posters.

“The agriculture sector in Ireland is more important than ever in the face of the twin threats of the COVID crisis and Brexit. Good animal health underpins livestock farming and the agri food industry.

“Animal Health Awareness Week provides the opportunity to remind all stakeholders that our positive animal health status as a country cannot be taken for granted. It also provides an opportunity to communicate important messages on animal health to stakeholders,” Minister McConalogue said.


The connection between the health of animals, humans and the environment is effectively captured in the One Health concept, the Department has said.

Many diseases of animals can also affect humans or, to look at it from the opposite point of view, many human diseases have reservoirs in the animal population.

Our positive animal health status cannot be taken for granted

Good animal health contributes to public health, the profitability of individual farms as well as the sustainability of our livestock farming. It means that less greenhouse gases are produced per unit of output.

Minister McConalogue added: “The Department would like to acknowledge the contribution and engagement of a wide range of stakeholders from across the agri food industry and the education sector for supporting the Animal Health Awareness Week and helping to make it a success.

“Our positive animal health status cannot be taken for granted. All other things being equal, better animal health leads to better human health, especially in groups of people who work with animals such as farmers and vets. COVID-19, although a disease of humans, holds many lessons for keepers of animals in relation to biosecurity.”

Biosecurity is a vitally important tool in the national effort to prevent and suppress disease. The key role of biosecurity in delivering good animal health is underlined by the launch of Ireland’s first national farmed animal biosecurity strategy on Wednesday 25 November.

Ministers of State also endorsed the Animal Health Awareness Week. Minister Martin Heydon drew attention to the importance of animal health for trade, stating: “Maintaining and improving our already positive animal health status is vitally important as we seek to expand existing markets and develop new ones.”

Minister Pippa Hackett said: “The link between good animal health, food production and human health cannot be understated. Keeping our farm animals healthy, with a reduced need for animal health products, has beneficial effects on many aspects - from soil microbiology, animal welfare, and public health.

"Sustaining optimal animal health will benefit farmers' pockets too, not only in terms of reduced input costs, but also because healthy animals are more productive.”

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