Minister pours cold water over possible u-turn on electronic sheep tagging

Ballinasloe Sheep Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Ballinasloe Sheep Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

There will be no U-turn on the decision to introduce compulsory electronic tagging (EID) for all sheep from October 1, Agriculture Minister Creed has said.

The Minister told FarmIreland that he would not row back on the decision despite it receiving a furious reaction from farm organisations.

“I’m not for turning on this. EID is the best available technology and our current tagging system for sheep is not fit for purpose.

"International markets are demanding and new markets that we’d like to access are equally demanding of high standards in terms of traceability, for that reason this is the right thing to do,"he said.

Earlier this week the IFA urged that Minister Creed should row back on the new rules which they claim will cost farmers €2 million a year.

"This move by the minister, on top of his decision on the clean sheep policy and the severe hardship this spring, shows a lack of understanding of how sheep farms work and the pressures farmers are under," said IFA president Joe Healy.

Electronic Sheep Tagging

From October 1 lambs under 12 months of age that are going directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will require a single electronic tag.

All other sheep will require an EID tag set comprising two tags - one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag.

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A conventional tag and an EID bolus will also be permitted.

The farm organisations claim the introduction of EID tagging will put unnecessary costs on flocks where lambs are born and reared and sent directly to slaughter, as well as the low-margin hill sheep sector.

They are also angry over what they believe was an absence of consultation by Minister Creed on the matter, a claim which has been challenged by the Department.

INHFA president Colm O'Donnell accused Minister Creed of going on a solo-run on EID.

John Brooks of the ICSA said electronic tagging would cost thousands of farmers like him an additional €1.20 a head for a tag that would be on a lamb for just a few hours.

"I tag the lambs as they go to the factory. So two or three hours after I tag them, the lambs will be slaughtered and the tags thrown away," Mr Brooks said.

He said offering sheep farmers €50 towards the costs of EID was akin to throwing them "a few pieces of silver".

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