EID tagging of sheep to be put under the spotlight

The mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) tagging to all sheep is set to be discussed by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine next week.

The move – which was announced by the Department of Agriculture at the beginning of May – has been widely criticised by farm organisations in recent weeks.

Speaking ahead of next Tuesday’s (June 19) meeting, the chair of the Agriculture Committee – Fine Gael TD Pat Deering – said: “Under recently-announced new rules, all sheep sold from October 1, 2018, onward will have to be identified electronically.

“A once-off support measure of up to €50 per keeper will be made on the first purchase of EID tags.

Next week, the Agriculture Committee will engage directly with officials from the Department of Agriculture – as well as with representatives from Meat Industry Ireland (MII) – to discuss the implications of this significant change to the sheep tagging process.

The committee will be focusing on the concerns raised by farmers, including the additional time and labour implications the new system will involve, deputy Deering explained.

Continuing, he added: “Sheep farmers have also voiced their dissatisfaction at a lack of meaningful consultation on EID up to now and many farmers are not satisfied that EID will mean further market access and an increase in the value of sheep farmers’ produce.

“The committee meeting will be a valuable opportunity to discuss electronic tagging and how we can ensure that it results in tangible benefits for Irish farmers, including greater access to new international markets.”

Rural Development Programme

Meanwhile, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, will appear before the committee in the second part of the meeting to discuss expenditure in the Rural Development Programme (RDP).

There will be a special focus on commitments given in six schemes.

“The committee looks forward to engaging with Minister Creed on the RDP budget spend to date and how it reflects the delivery of commitments made by the Government to farmers, including data and indicators on this delivery,” deputy Deering concluded.