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No Vet Now for Cow

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No Vet Now for Cow

Cows in Aðaldalur, Northeast Iceland.

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

A cow’s life is in danger because of budget cuts by The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), Vísir reports.

The cow Tía and its owners in Grímshús, Þingeyjarsveit, are the victims of MAST’s decision to cut compensation to vets in the area by 50 percent. Because of this decision, no vets have been operating in the district for the past three weeks. The cow came up with acute mastitis yesterday and is not expected to make it if it goes untreated.

“I have no solution,” says Hallgrímur Óli Guðmundsson, farmer at Grímshús. “She suffers and produces nothing. She’s just sick.” Tía went from producing 37 liters of milk to only two in one day. The cow is rapidly losing weight and, unless attended to by a vet, the farmer fears she will die in the next few days.

MAST is responsible for securing vet services in the less populated parts of the country. A service contract to this area expired in October of last year, and no vet has shown interest in renewing the contract since then. Vignir Sigurólason, a veterinarian in Húsavík, had intended to renew his contract once it expired, but quicky changed his mind when he discovered how much the pay had been reduced. He calls it “gross disregard” to offer 50 percent pay for 100 percent work.

The reason for the cut, he claims, is that MAST decided to add one veterinary service area, which was to be funded by cuts in adjacent ones. According to Vignir, the new service area in Vopnafjörður, northeastern Iceland, overlaps both the Þingeyjarsveit area and the East area. MAST has decided to pay 100 percent for services provided in Vopnafjörður, but only 50 percent in the other two areas. Vignir is evaluating his options and may decide not to continue operating as a vet.

MAST has repeatedly advertised for a vet in Þingeyjarsveit, but to no avail. In the meantime, some emergency calls have been scheduled by the agency, the last one July 13-24, but sadly for Tía, the next call scheduled is not until Friday.

Hallgrímur Óli is not impressed: “Their idea of a call in the area is to let the vet in Vopnafjörður cover, but he is at a driving distance of two and a half hours.”

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