There was no agreement arrived at regarding the introduction of EID tags for sheep at a meeting hosted by Department of Agriculture officials today (Monday), according to ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch.

The meeting involved representatives from the farming organisations, the factories, the marts and the Department.

“We are against the principle of going down this road as it will simply increase the costs incurred by flock owners, without delivering any tangible farmgate price increases,” said Punch.

“And we only have to look north to find the justification for this assertion. The sheep industry in Northern Ireland introduced electronic tagging some time ago.

“But over the last number of months sheep prices in that region have fallen back while, during the same period, lamb prices in the Republic of Ireland actually increased by some 5%.

Punch confirmed that the factories and the marts favour the introduction of EID tags.

“They justify this on the basis of the efficiencies they can introduce within their operational and management systems,” he said.

“But, as yet, Department of Agriculture staff have not come off the fence on this matter.  And it would be helpful if their views could be made known at this stage.”

The proposed EID scheme will be made mandatory for all sheep farmers, if agreed.

“A pair of EID tags will cost €1.30,” said Punch.

“The plants are saying that a single electronic tag would suffice in sheep destined for slaughter. But this still works out €1/head. This additional cost represents a significant proportion of the profit that can be made from sheep at the present time.”

Punch confirmed that Department officials will now follow up on the EID issue with all the relevant stakeholder groups on an individual basis.