‘If EID for cattle benefits whole sector, then whole sector should pay’

Following confirmation from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine that it was considering the possibility of electronic identification (EID) tagging for cattle, one farm organisation is adamant that farmers alone cannot bear the cost of such an initiative.

Lorcan McCabe, the deputy president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), argued that, since the benefits of EID tagging extend “well beyond the farmgate” – including to livestock marts, meat processors and the department itself – the cost cannot be placed exclusively on farmers.

“In a situation where the benefits will be shared out among all the stakeholders in the industry, the costs should likewise be shared out in a transparent way,” he commented.

It is high time that the costs of all new regulations were shared equitably along all the links in the food supply chain.

“Farmers are caught in a cycle where their input costs are consistently rising, while the prices they receive are consistently falling. That destructive cycle is compounded by the fact that farmers are expected to bear the additional costs imposed by a never-ending stream of regulation and directives,” the ICMSA deputy president added.

He argued that a move towards EID tagging would be “an opportunity to break that cycle that has farmers paying for changes that benefit everyone in the sector”.

McCabe highlighted the need for a “clear and transparent plan” to ensure that all players in the supply chain who would benefit from EID for cattle would contribute to costs.

“The days when everyone passed the bill for these new systems back to the farmer are gone and everyone must realise that,” he concluded.

Department confirmation

The department confirmed yesterday, Thursday, July 16, that it is looking into the possibility of bringing in compulsory EID tagging for cattle.

If it is to move towards this, the department said that a consultation process with sectoral and industrial stakeholders will have to be carried out.

A spokesperson for the department said: “The department is considering the merits of introducing mandatory electronic identification of bovines.

“The development of any plan to implement EID will involve consultation with all relevant stakeholders,” the spokesperson added.