The compulsory use of electronic identification (EID) tagging for all sheep has been described as “completely over the top” by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association’s (ICSA’s) sheep chairman John Brooks.

Brooks was reacting to an announcement made earlier today by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

The minister confirmed that all sheep – including lambs under 12 months moving directly from the farm for processing – must be EID tagged from October 1, 2018.

This move has been taken without warning or consultation at the behest of processors, Brooks said.

There is no doubt that this move will benefit efficiency in factories, but there will be no benefit to the primary producer or to the end consumer.

“The sheep farmer will ultimately have to bear all the costs associated and there will be no extra traceability post slaughter, certainly not individual carcass traceability.

“Foisting this on farmers with the reasoning that it’s a market requirement simply does not ring true,” he said.

Continuing, Brooks claimed that it appears as if the department has been “hoodwinked” on this issue.

Up to now even the most ardent supporter of EID tagging consented that it should never be a requirement for lambs moving from farm of origin to the meat plant.

“In addition, there has been no promise of a reduction in paperwork for the farmer. Costs have been mounting up for sheep farmers in recent months.

“In the middle of a busy spring we had the confused roll-out of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep and now this. There is no justification for adding this extra cost burden onto sheep farmers at a time when so many are struggling to stay afloat,” he concluded.