Calls for compromise regarding EID tagging of all sheep

Calls for compromise have been made by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association in relation to the mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) tagging to all sheep.

Plans were announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, earlier this year that will require all sheep sold from October 1, 2018, and onward to be identified electronically.

Under the new rules, lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will need to be identified with a single electronic tag.

All other sheep will require an EID tag set comprised of two tags – one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag. A conventional tag and an EID bolus will be permitted also.

However, the INHFA’s Brendan Joyce called for a derogation in relation to the introduction of these new rule changes at the farm organisation’s annual general meeting (AGM) in the Sligo Southern Hotel yesterday (Thursday, June 7).

Commenting on the matter, he said: “We appreciate that the objective of having a very robust traceability system – which is potentially an advantage in marketing – is important.

However, with many hill farmers last year taking €25 to €35 for store lambs – and after a very difficult winter – they cannot be expected to carry the additional cost this places upon them.

“Also, the start date that was set for this – October 1 – is a real issue for the store lamb. The farmer selling store lambs in August and September through the marts will not be required to use EID tags.

“Yet those store buyers will be compelled to upgrade those lambs’ tags to EID when slaughtering after October 1. This will be a real problem in a sector of very low margins,” he explained.

Joyce asked the minister to allow anyone who buys lambs prior to October 1 to send them to slaughter without incurring any additional charges in relation to EID tagging up until 2019.

He called on the department to cover any costs associated with the rolling out of this measure.

‘A system fit for purpose’

Speaking to AgriLand, Minister Creed said: “We have moved some distance in the sense that there is an acknowledgement that EID is the right thing to do. We will work through all of the other detail.

My overwhelming concern is that we have a system that is fit for purpose; it’s not at the moment. I’ve always said that there is a cost associated with it – we will make some contribution to the cost.

“But I do think, over time, that people will see that this is something that actually is far more efficient and works to their advantage ultimately,” he concluded.