Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, T.D., today launched a plan for the development of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Regional Laboratories, announcing an estimated capital investment of €33.5 million in rebuilding the Laboratory Network over the next 10 years.
On completion of this plan in 2028, 98% of registered herd owners will be within a one-hour drive of one of four regional laboratories or one of five carcase transfer centres that will be established in the border counties and along the Western seaboard, according to the Department.
The investment in the Regional Laboratory Network will progress in five incremental stages over the next decade, as outlined below.
- A helpline for farmers and their vets which can be used to seek advice and assistance, to book carcases in for post-mortem examination (PME) and for subsequent follow-up of laboratory findings;
- Two carcase transfer centres in Co. Donegal and Co. Cavan to which farmers can bring carcases which have been booked in for PME – and from where carcases will be delivered by the Department to Sligo and Athlone RVLs, respectively;
- The design, building and commissioning of two state-of-the-art laboratories in Kilkenny and Sligo, replacing the existing facilities by the end of 2022 and 2024;
- A “Super RVL” at a greenfield site in North Co. Cork with carcase transfer centres in Co Clare and Co Kerry;
- The development of a Super RVL in Athlone with a carcase transfer centre in Co Mayo. The RVLs in Kilkenny and Sligo will be designed to accommodate a staff team of 15 people, the Super RVL in Co Cork to accommodate 45 people and that in Athlone to accommodate 25 people.
Sustainable food production
“This plan for the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Laboratories is the result of senior officials working with the relevant stakeholders (internal and external) to realise an ambition for the Department’s laboratories to be recognised as centres of excellence at home and abroad.” Minister Creed said.
“This investment in the regional laboratories will assist the agri-food sector in ensuring sustainable food production - safeguarding the food-chain and substantiating our favourable animal and plant health status while achieving the ambitious growth targets outlined in Food Wise 2025.”
He stated that Department officials will be engaging with both internal and external stakeholders over the autumn period.