Farmers are paying over €30m a year in VAT on vaccines and medicines that are administered by injection or as pour-ons. The IFA is seeking an equalisation with oral vaccines, which are zero-VAT rated.

While oral vaccines are VAT-free, injectables and pour-ons are charged at 23% VAT.

IFA farm business chair Rose Mary McDonagh says it is an animal health issue, an animal welfare issue and a farm safety issue. Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the IFA’s pre-budget lobbying event on Wednesday, she said that vaccine use is something the Government should be encouraging and not placing financial barriers in front of farmers.

“Everyone shares concerns around microbial resistance to antibiotics and vaccine use that will reduce sickness and that in turn reduces antibiotic use,” she said.

“It’s not just a cost issue, injectables and pour-on medicines are far less stressful for both farmer and the animal than oral administration,” said McDonagh. A farmer can inject cattle or sheep much more accurately, ensuring the vaccine is administered straight into the bloodstream, giving the best uptake of the vaccine.

“From a farm safety point of view, having to put a dosing gun into an animal’s mouth requires restraining the animal, a stress that is unnecessary. It also means it is a two-person job, whereas injecting cattle in a crush can be done by one person on their own. This is important, as so many farmers are one-person operations.”

McDonagh wants the Government to zero-rate all vaccines, whether administered orally, by injection, or as a pour-on: “There is a compelling case for equalisation of VAT rates here, and with a comprehensive vaccine programme so important for our national cattle herd, our sheep flock, and our pig herd, we hope the Government do the right thing in the 2022 budget.”