Farm Ireland

Tuesday 23 January 2018

IFA at war with ICOS over EID

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

A war of words has broken out between two of the agri-sector's largest lobby groups. The IFA reacted angrily to ICOS's call for the full implementation of the electronic tagging (EID) system for the sheep industry.

"With growing price convergence in the marketplace, it is imperative that the Irish sheep sector finds ways to differentiate its offering to consumers. The full introduction of EID for sheep provides just such an opportunity," said ICOS's marts chairman, Michael Spellman.

The move would require all sheep, except lambs under 12 months, to be EID tagged before they ever left a farmer's holding. ICOS claim that EID is now becoming standard in our export markets and Northern Ireland, which has full sheep EID from birth to slaughter without any exceptions.

However, the IFA claim that ICOS's move undermines their efforts to maintain a derogation from the current EU directive on EID. This allows any farmer to sell sheep at a mart without EID and finishers to re-tag lambs with a single EID tag before export. The IFA's sheep chairman, James Murphy said if sellers are forced to use EID, it will drive sheep away from the marts and cause animal welfare problems of more ear infections in sheep.

In contrast, ICOS say that EID will enhance flock management by enabling more efficient animal recording and more streamlined sale and movement between farms, marts and processors.

It is estimated a switch to compulsory EID tagging would cost farmers at least an extra €250,000 a year in tags.

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