Veterinary Ireland believes that the Government’s proposal to not allow vets to prescribe and dispense veterinary medicines would leave isolated farms without a vet and would not lead to a reduction in anti-microbial usage.

From January 2022, all antiparasitic drugs will only be available with a veterinary prescription. The Department of Agriculture has proposed breaking the link between the prescribing and dispensing of medicines.

Finbarr Murphy, Veterinary Ireland, told the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture this week that not allowing vets to prescribe and dispense medicine would “have a number of very negative impacts.”

“It will decrease competition regarding the sale of vet medicines, unfairly exclude veterinary practitioners from the market when there is strong competition within the veterinary medicine market. It will be detrimental to animal health and welfare.

Ultimately, decoupling would leave some of the most isolated farms in rural Ireland without veterinary services

“Currently, there is no economic basis for clinical work in large animal practice.

“We would not wish to see the cost of clinical veterinary services give rise to animal welfare issues. It will threaten the viability of rural veterinary practices.

“The sale of drugs is one of the service areas giving rise to an income stream to support family practices.

“Ultimately, decoupling would leave some of the most isolated farms in rural Ireland without veterinary services,” he said.

The blanket treating of animals with antibiotics will no longer be allowed under new EU vet medicine rules, which come into force in January 2022.

The president of Veterinary Ireland, Conor Geraghty, said that the rules will mean farmers and vets will not be able to rely on antibiotics as a preventative measure, they will only be allowed to use them on sick animals.

“It applies to blanket treating animals bought in, in case they get pneumonia, it applies to using CTC powder for calves that might get a cough, the blanket treatment for watery mouths in lambs at birth – all these practices will no longer be allowed,” he said.