Electronic ID deficit hitting lamb exports - Creed
The lack of electronic ID (EID) is limiting market access for Irish lamb, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.
This is one of the main reasons that Department officials are pushing for the inclusion of a new tagging regime in the new €25m sheep scheme, due to get under way over the coming months.
"Our sheep exports are at a competitive disadvantage compared to UK product for example because without electronic tagging it is difficult to provide the level of traceability that some customers require," said Minister Creed.
He also believes that the inclusion of EID would strengthen the proposals for the scheme, which must first be approved by the European Commission.
"I don't want to be prescriptive on what's included, but the overriding imprimatur is that it is credible with the Commission," he added.
"I don't want a protracted tennis match with proposals going back and forward to the Commission."
Farm organisations have staunchly resisted any form of compulsory EID for sheep farmers. The IFA claimed last year when the idea was mooted that it would cost farmers up to €2m per year.
The IFA's sheep chairman, John Lynsky, said EID was unnecessary since the EU Commission have stated that the derogation for lambs going direct to slaughter will continue to be available.
Instead, he wants a scheme that pays farmers an average of €10 per ewe over the 2.5 million flock for a series of animal health initiatives implemented at farm level. Mr Lynsky wants the list of options available to farmers to cover foot rot, scab and worm control, along with an element aimed at encouraging farmers to use vaccinations on their flocks.
In addition, the organisation is seeking a measure aimed at rewarding husbandry practices unique to hill-sheep farming.
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