ICSA president Patrick Kent has labelled the new regional veterinary laboratory (RVL) charges as “just another stealth tax on farmers.” From March 31st, there will be changes made to the charges for testing of animals at Regional Veterinary Labs.

The Department argues that it is bringing in these changes to bring the existing RVL charge in line with overall disposal costs at knackeries. Furthermore, RVL post-mortem fees will now be subject to VAT at 23%. In the case of an adult cow, the new VAT-inclusive RVL charge to cover post-mortem and disposal will be almost three times that of the existing cost (Before March 31st = €23.35 / After March 31st = €68.72).

Mr Kent said “The new RVL waste disposal charge is effectively another stealth tax on farmers which arises from the Department no longer wanting to absorb the cost of animal disposal. I have serious concerns that some farmers will now be disincentivised from bringing animals to RVLs, which could reduce the important animal health information service that the RVLs provide.”

Mr Kent was also critical of Revenue’s decision to apply the 23% VAT rate to laboratory testing, saying that the change was “unnecessary and would inevitably eat further into the bottom lines of Irish livestock producers. Farmers have seen an array of increased charges from state agencies over recent years all of which undermine the viability and competitiveness of Irish farming.”

Turning to the issue of taxation, today will see the ICSA submitting its views to the Revenue Commissioners on how best  the tax system can be changed to allow Irish farmers meet the targets set out in the Harvest 2020 Report.

“In the first instance we believe that the current farm income averaging measure, which takes account of three years’ accounts, should be amended to take in a five year trading period,” explained ICSA policy analyst Geoff Hamilton .

“Only in this way can the tax system take full account of the volatility that will characterise  world food market during the period ahead.”

He continued:

“We believe that the government has introduced a number of innovative tax-related measures over recent times, which facilitate the needs of farmers.

“However, the key driver moving  forward must be that of ensuring the development of  a taxation system that makes the transfer of land between generations more attractive.  So, for example, anything that can be done to further encourage the long term of leasing of land will represent a very positive step in this context.”