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Wednesday 26 September 2018

Labour savings will compensate for EID scheme costs: Creed

Michael Harrrington, Castletownbere, Co Cork, tagging his Scotch sheep at Kenmare Mart. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Michael Harrrington, Castletownbere, Co Cork, tagging his Scotch sheep at Kenmare Mart. Photo: Valerie O'Sullivan
Jackie Cahill, Fianna Fail deputy for Tipperary at Leinster House.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The decision to introduce electronic tagging (EID) of sheep has been defended by the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed.

Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, Minister Creed claimed that the adoption of EID improved animal traceability and offered labour savings for farmers.

The introduction of EID from October this year was strongly criticised by Jackie Cahill of Fianna Fáil, who said that the full cost of the measure would be borne by farmers.

"There is a cost; I have never hidden from the fact that there is a cost. But I don't think that it is weighed in on the other side of the balance sheet that there is also a labour-saving device here," Minister Creed told the committee.

"I mean, transposing 13-digit numbers on to dispatch documents is not conducive to accuracy."

The weaknesses in the current sheep identification and traceability systems were highlighted by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's (FSAI) recent audit of Department of Agriculture controls.

Slaughter

The audit showed that a significant number of ear tag numbers recorded on dispatch documents which had accompanied sheep for slaughter were found to be invalid when checked against the AIM database.

The deficiencies predominately related to the delivery of consignments by dealers, the audit claimed.

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"When a dealer is delivering sheep from a number of different holdings and includes the information on one dispatch document traceability can be difficult, as it is the dealer's designator number (and not the designator number of the farm of origin) that the food business operator uses in order to trace sheep," the FSAI report stated.

Traceability is further challenged if tags are missing from a consignment and a dealer has used his own tags.

In one of the factories audited, 0.9pc of sheep presented in the slaughter hall did not have a tag and 1.8pc of sheep supplied by dealers had no tags.

In another plant, between 0.5pc and 0.8pc of sheep did not have tags when presented for slaughter.

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