Marts won't be EID ready for at least a month, admits Creed
It will be the end of the month before the first of the country's marts are fully operational for EID, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, has admitted.
Although mandatory EID tagging of sheep was introduced from June 1, Minister Creed conceded that no mart is fully EID operational as of yet.
Speaking at the AGM of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers' Association (INHFA), the minister accepted that progress on installing and commissioning the necessary EID equipment and software has been slow.
"The five main factories involved in the slaughter of lambs are on board," Minister Creed told the AGM in Sligo.
"I expect to have the first of the marts online before the end of this month," he added.
The minister told the meeting that 44 of the country's 58 marts had engaged with the Department of Agriculture regarding EID.
He accepted that the remaining 14, and some smaller slaughter plants, may not install the equipment.
However, Minister Creed maintained that the "dozen or so marts that deal with the overwhelming volume of sales" will be on board within a "couple of weeks".
It was initially envisaged that factories and marts would be approved Central Points of Recording (CPRs), with the necessary equipment to read EID tags, and thereby significantly reduce the volume of documentation required for the sale and movement of stock.
Given the delay in getting EID fully operational, INHFA president, Colm O'Donnell, told Minister Creed that the Department of Agriculture should carry the full tagging cost.
"€2m a year approximately would cover this," the INHFA president maintained.
Mr O'Donnell pointed out that there was a €6m underspend last year in funds that were earmarked for the sheep sector and that a proportion of these monies could be allocated to EID tagging.
Minister Creed told the AGM that the introduction of EID was critical to securing access in new markets.
"The new [EID] arrangements will ensure that Ireland has a robust and simplified sheep identification and traceability system," he said.
"Good progress has been made in recent times to expand opportunities for the sheepmeat sector internationally. Sheepmeat markets were opened in Kuwait and Qatar in 2018 with the agreement of veterinary health certificates in both of those countries.
"Significant work is underway in relation to developing market access opportunities for the sheepmeat sector in the USA, China and Japan," he added.
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