‘Only a matter of time’ before bovine EID tagging is the norm

It is likely to be “only a matter of time” before bovine electronic identification (EID) tagging is the norm, according to Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.

Minister Creed spoke to AgriLand last Wednesday (July 11) following the launch of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s research grant awards.

Commenting on the EID tagging being brought into force in October for sheep, the minister noted that, with the technology, “there’s a cost but there’s also a convenience”.

In 2017, some 265,052 EID cattle tags were sold. This represented a sales increase of 93,532 electronic tags compared to 2016 – or a jump of almost 54%.

The introduction of electronic identification of bovines on a voluntary basis or mandatory basis by July 2019 is outlined in EU regulation.

Speaking in relation to complaints made by a number of farm organisations about the new mandatory measure for sheep tagging, Minister Creed said:

“We’re looking at all the details now in terms of the submissions we’ve received – but we are going down the route of sheep EID.

And I think, to be fair, it’s probably only a matter of time before EID will be the norm – not just in sheep but in bovine animals as well.

The minister did not elaborate on this, saying: “I want to get sheep out of the way first.”

Sheep traceability

Explaining his priority on sheep, Minister Creed highlighted two primary concerns that EID tagging would help to deal with:

“One is the FSAI [Food Safety Authority of Ireland] report,” he said, highlighting a recent report which found that a ‘significant number‘ of sheep tag numbers and identities selected in random checks as part of an audit of slaughter plants were found to be not valid.

Also Read: ‘Significant number’ of sheep tag numbers not valid in slaughter plants audit

“There is no minister sitting in this office that could ignore the issues raised in the FSAI report to do with traceability and food safety. And, there is also the related issue of market access.

“There is no minister who would not do what we’re doing,” Minister Creed said.