Farm Ireland

Thursday 18 January 2018

Enhanced sheep tagging scheme mooted for €25m package

Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. Photo: Tom Burke.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed. Photo: Tom Burke.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

A tagging scheme delivering enhanced traceability in the sheep flock is one of the key measures being considered as part of the €25m package for the sector.

Farming bodies are seeking a 'menu' of options that farmers could pick from to meet the requirements of the new funding.

The ICSA's John Brooks warned against using the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) as a blueprint for rolling out the sheep scheme, pointing out that breeding within the sector was not at the same level.

"The department are keen to have as part of it enhanced traceability in the flock," said Mr Brooks. However, he said the ICSA felt it wasn't a sensible requirement to put electronic tags on lambs that were going straight from farm to slaughter.

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said discussions were underway with the farm representative groups and that he was keen to get their input.

Mr Creed said the sector has "waited long enough" and his department was anxious to have it in place for 2017.

He said he was keen to have a scheme they could collectively sign off on as the monies would be coming from the Rural Development Programme under CAP and it requires amendment at EU level.

"I want to pay the industry this money. Obviously there will be a quid pro quo as otherwise it would be direct income aid and the State can't just say 'there is a cheque'," Mr Creed said.

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"The only thing I would say is from talking to people like the meat industry we have issues in respect of traceability in the sector," he said. "If we are looking to explore new markets in particular that is maybe something that should be reflected upon."

Potentially the payment could be divvied out at €10 a head, with a flock of over 2.4 million ewes in the country.

The IFA's John Lynskey said the changes would have to be submitted before the end of June to be passed and be paid out next year.

Mr Lynskey said they hoped the options would be broad enough for farmers to fulfil the scheme, which he felt should be mainly focused on animal welfare issues, such as dealing with foot rot.

He felt other measures that may be included were faecal egg counts to ensure the correct level of dosing was followed to reduce anthelmintic resistance. Mr Brooks said he felt the animal welfare measures would be of benefit to farmers.

"We want this to be of minimal cost and bureaucracy so we are trying to focus on items that would be beneficial to farmers," he said.

"It has to get past the EU and we think they would like the animal welfare measures."

It is understood some reference period would be followed to ensure the monies were available to those in the sector for the long-term.

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