‘EID tagging has benefits – but these need to be passed back to farmers’

Further market access and increasing the value of sheep farmers’ produce must be the ambition for Irish lamb following the announcement that all sheep must now have electronic identification (EID) tagging.

This is the view of young farmers’ organisation Macra na Feirme following the announcement made by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed during the week.

Macra na Feirme national president James Healy said: “Macra na Feirme understands the requirement that all sheep must be electronically tagged and this must now be the catalyst for access to new markets for Irish lamb.”

During an extensive consultation that took place this winter, young farmers highlighted the on-farm efficiencies and the opportunity to access new markets as some of the positive impacts that would come from this move.

This is a similar view to Meat Industry Ireland (MII), which said that the move is “critically important to the positioning of Irish lamb in the marketplace and to competing for key customer accounts”.

MII has said that its members are “working actively with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to progress access to new international markets such as the US, Japan and China”.

Healy said: “Our members understand the merits of electronic tagging and, while having reservations about the increased cost, believe that in the long run electronic tagging will pay off for them.

While our members see benefits to this system, it is also clear that there will be huge advantages to the processor leading to cost savings.

“These savings must be passed onto the farmer, who is carrying all of the risk in this situation,” Healy stressed.