Animal Health 2002 Launched

Article excerpt

ANIMAL patients outnumber the population of Ireland by at least eight-to-one.

And the vital role of animal health as part of the Republic's economy and social life, is the focus of a new exhibition, Animal Health 2002, taking place at the RDS on February 9 and 10.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Sean O'Laoide, president of Veterinary Ireland, said that, in a social context, the value of pet health to pet-owners was most likely 'unquantifiable', paticularly where much- loved pets formed part of a family or provided a sole companion to someone living alone.

However, in the context of farming, there were nearly 30 million livestock and poultry on Irish farms, accounting for an estimated annual output of some IRpounds 3.7 billion, driving production of 316,000 tonnes annually of cheese, butter and skim milk powder, and with the agri and food sectors representing 10.5 per cent of both the country's GDP and employment.

"Livestock products and livestock account for IRpounds 4.7 billion of our annual exports and 90 per cent of the total value of our agricultural output, with the remaining 10 per cent made up of crops, fruit and horticulture," he said.

"In fact, Ireland has the highest relative dependency in Europe on animals and, subsequently, animal health and welfare as part of our agricultural output.

"In addition, Ireland has 75,500 horses and ponies, with thoroughbred horses accounting for an estimated IRpounds 100 million per annum in exports."

Sean O'Laoide said that, while farmers were increasingly aware that better livestock health and welfare led to improved profitability, the role of veterinarians and animal health in protecting consumer interests and food safety, had taken on a new level of recognition in the wake of the Foot- and-Mouth Disease threat. …