It has been confirmed that “preliminary discussions” have recently taken place regarding the introduction of the mandatory electronic tagging (EID) of cattle.

Some discussions have taken place between officials from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and representatives from the farm organisations.

The Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, confirmed the news in response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill.

Minister Creed explained that his department provides for the use of EID (electronic identification tags) in the supply of official bovine identification tags to herd keepers by approved tag vendors.

Continuing, he said: “In this regard herd keepers can on a voluntary basis choose to identify bovine animals using a conventional and electronic tag.

“Regulation (EU) No 653/2014 provides for the introduction of electronic identification of bovines on a voluntary basis or mandatory basis from July 18, 2019 – whereby each member state shall ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place for the electronic identification of animals.

The European Commission plans to introduce the required implementing and delegated acts prior to July 2019 and – in this regard – my department will keep the position under review at EU level.

As well as this, the minister confirmed that he is considering the scope for the possible introduction of “mandatory electronic identification of bovines in the context of the benefits that EID will provide to all interested stakeholders”.

He added that the development of a plan to implement EID will require consultation with all stakeholders – including: livestock marts; ICOS; Meat Industry Ireland (MII); and approved tag suppliers.

The schedule for any implementation of mandatory EID would be influenced by this consultation process, according to the minister.

It would also need to take into consideration a number of “challenging, practical and logistical issues” – such as tag supply capacity and the integration of a new EID system with the conventional tagging system, which currently exists in the national herd, Minister Creed concluded.