Farm leaders demand more official dialogue on EID rules

Sheep farmers continue to hold “deep concerns” over the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s apparent “lack of meaningful consultation” on the incoming mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) tagging to all sheep.

This was the message from the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) chairman, John Brooks, following Teagasc’s recent SHEEP2018 event in Athenry, Co. Galway, where he said “EID anger was clearly evident”.

The department needs to understand farmers’ concerns about EID tagging and avoid unnecessary chaos if this roll-out is attempted in October.

Brooks has urged the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, to “initiate further engagement” with stakeholders ahead of the introduction of the new rules later this year.

Under the new rules, lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will be required 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. However, a conventional tag and an EID bolus will be permitted also.

Exemptions

However, Brooks contends that lambs going direct from the holding of birth to slaughter should be “fully exempt” from (EID) tagging.

“No additional traceability is achieved from this.

“With mandatory EID tagging, efficiency in factories might improve; but there will be no benefit to the primary producer or to the end consumer,” he said.

Brooks pointed out that sheep farmers “simply cannot carry”, what he claims, would amount to an estimated €2.5 million in annual costs.

“It is a low income sector and should not be expected to take a financial hit of this magnitude.

A big part of protecting the sheep industry is making sure we retain the primary producers – not force them out because they can’t make a living.

Concluding, Brooks said: “Factories are suggesting that there is scope to increase production by up to one million sheep annually – yet prices are pulled at the slightest increase in supply.

“The bottom line is EID will do nothing that would result in sheep farmers achieving a better price.”