Some marts to be without EID scanning facilities after June 1

Some marts will not have the facilities for reading electronic identification (EID) tags before June 1, when it will become mandatory for sheep farmers to tag all sheep and lambs with these devices.

Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, was responding to a parliamentary question from independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who asked why it will be compulsory for farmers to have these tags after that date, but factories and marts won’t be required to install the technology to read them.

The minister said that, “where it is not feasible for marts to upgrade their facilities to ‘central points of recording’ (CPRs) requirements”, farmers will still have to record the individual number of each sheep, or print out the tag numbers.

I accept that the upgrading of mart facilities to CPR standards will be an incremental process and I expect that a significant number of marts will be in a position to operate as CPRs in a relatively short period.

“My officials are working very closely with marts and slaughter plants to ensure that as many of these premises as possible will operate as CPRs with effect from June 1,” said Minister Creed.

He claimed that the major processing plants were making “significant progress in this regard”, and that marts are “proactively engaging” with the process to have the necessary facilities up and running “at the earliest opportunity”.

Responding to Fitzmaurice’s point on cost, the minister pointed out that, under the tag subsidy initiative, €1 per tag was subsidised in the first tag order between October 1, 2018 and September 30, 2019, up to €100 per farmer.

The first of four sets of payments – for tags ordered between October 1 and December 31, 2018 – were made at the end of January, while a second round of payments was made earlier this month.

So far, approximately €690,000 has been paid out to just under 10,000 farmers.