Today, Monday, September 30, marks the closing date for the Electronic Identification (EID) Tag Subsidy Scheme, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has announced.

In a reminder, the department warned that sheep farmers that have not ordered sheep tags since October 1, 2018, are running out of time to complete their first order of electronic sheep tags to avail of a payment under the scheme.

The once-off scheme has been in operation since October 1, 2018.

According to the department, to date, payments of more than €1.4 million have been made to sheep farmers.

Under the scheme, the Department of Agriculture is subsidising by €1 the cost of each electronic tag purchased in the first electronic sheep tag order completed between October 1, 2018, and September 30, 2019, up to a maximum payment of €100 per person.

A minimum order of 10 electronic tags is required for eligibility to the scheme.

Eligible tag orders can be for single electronic tags, the electronic element of EID tag sets or a combination of both, provided they are all completed on the same date.

There is no need to apply for payment under the scheme. The department’s systems determine eligibility and calculate payments due, based on the details of the completed eligible tag orders.

Payments are made automatically to farmers in quarterly tranches, the first of which was paid in January 2019. Final payments in respect of eligible orders completed between July 1 and September 30, 2019, will be paid at the end of October.

New rules on the identification and movement of sheep have been in place since June 1, 2019. From that date, all sheep moved from any holding, without exception, must be identified electronically.

Sheep moving directly to a slaughter plant from the holding of origin while aged under 12 months may be identified by means of a single electronic tag placed in the animal’s right ear.

All other sheep movements – including movements to marts, farm-to-farm, to shows and so on – require sheep to be identified with a full EID set of tags compromising a single electronic tag in the animal’s right ear and a corresponding conventional tag bearing the same animal identification number, in the sheep’s left ear, according to the department.

Electronic bolus sets are also acceptable.

The department warned that, with effect from June 1, 2019, single conventional tags are not valid for the identification of sheep under any circumstances.

Remaining stocks of such tags should be carefully disposed of or, alternatively, specific corresponding electronic tags can be ordered to make up full EID sets of tags.