EID sheep tagging ‘isn’t going to happen’ mart managers warn

Mart managers have warned this week that the Central Point of Recording (CPR) for EID sheep tagging will not be implemented by June 1 because the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine won’t listen to them about the practicalities of the roll-out of the new system.

Speaking to AgriLand secretary of the Association of Livestock Marts Eric Driver said “it won’t happen”.

He pointed to the fact that, while the department did engage somewhat with the marts about electronic identification (EID) tagging, when it came to the cost of developing the computer programme the department was prepared to provide just a certain percentage of the cost while placing an onus on marts to provide the remainder.

Managers also say that for some marts covering those additional costs is simply not an option.

“I would like to go ahead with this system; the department brought in the regulation that all sheep coming into the marts be electronically tagged by June 1 and, in fact, mart managers were ambassadors for this right from the beginning,” said Driver, who is also the manager of Tullow Mart.

We can see the benefits of this for the store buyer.

The mart manager went on to say that he and his counterparts around the country had “multiple meetings” on the matter with the department throughout all of last year.

However, proceedings hit a stumbling block on three particular issues including: a single electronic tag for all sheep; marts to become a CPR; and financial support for marts.

“Grant aid of 40% with a total capping of €10,000 was then put forward by the department to help each mart cover the cost – but this just does not go far enough.

“This system would also mean that marts would be taking on extra responsibilities and recognition of the work that we do would also need to be factored in,” he added.

€10,000 would not be enough to cover the costs of installing the electronic equipment, getting wifi and kitting out premises with the necessary software.

Driver added that the department was not listening to mart managers about the serious costs involved for marts.

“The department won’t engage with us on either the funding of this system nor with regard to the roll-out of the system in the marts,” he added.

Blessington Mart

Manager of Blessington Mart John Doyle confirmed that the EID tagging for sheep was no longer compulsory for marts.

“The computer company isn’t going to write a programme for a system that isn’t even going to be enforced or implemented correctly,” he continued.

Even with the grant there are some marts that just will not be able to afford to bring in the system.

Doyle said that he doesn’t know of one mart in the country that is gearing up now for the implementation of the new electronic tagging system.

“I’m certainly not paying for the computer programme for this system – that is the department’s call; so unless they make this compulsory for everyone it is not going to happen,” added Doyle.

Department response

In a statement the department said that CPR would be required to provide the presenting keeper with a printed list of presented tag numbers (LPT) for association with the relevant dispatch document.

This, added a spokesperson, will remove the requirement for the keeper to manually record the individual animal identification number of each sheep presented on the dispatch document accompanying the animal.

The department added that the keeper will simply be required to record the total number of animals presented in the relevant area of the dispatch document and that other sections of the dispatch document will continue to the completed in the normal manner.

“The department is engaging in ongoing communication with stakeholders to facilitate a smooth transition to the new regime on June 1, 2019,” the spokesperson said.

ICSA

Meanwhile, in a statement, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) sheep chairman, Sean McNamara, said the fact that factories and marts are no longer obligated to install the systems for EID tagging is “ludicrous”.

“The onus is now on the department to make the installation of the necessary systems compulsory as a matter of urgency; sheep farmers cannot be expected to fork out for electronic tags if they’re not going to be used,” he continued.

From June 1, 2019, farmers across the country are obliged under EU regulations to tag sheep and lambs. The ICSA estimates that the cost of the new system to farmers will be in the region of €20 million per year.

McNamara says EID tagging “has been forced on farmers”.

“It will do nothing that would result in sheep farmers achieving a better price and neither will the consumer benefit as there is no additional traceability gained from their use.

We were told that EID was a market requirement – but if the factories and marts are allowed to adopt an indifferent attitude, why are we wasting our money?

“The least we should be able to expect is that the need for written dispatch dockets would be eliminated and that the factory or mart would be able to print off the necessary paperwork,” the sheep chairman concluded.