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'No-one really knows what's happening with the EID tagging'

Siobhán English spoke to sheep farmers at New Ross Mart about the viability of EID tags

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Tagging issue: A general view of the sheep sale at New Ross Mart yesterday. Photo: Siobhan English

Tagging issue: A general view of the sheep sale at New Ross Mart yesterday. Photo: Siobhan English

The new electronic tag in the right ear of a lamb

The new electronic tag in the right ear of a lamb

Jim Murphy, his grand-daughter Katie, and Jim Sullivan of Irish Country Meats. Photo: Siobhan English

Jim Murphy, his grand-daughter Katie, and Jim Sullivan of Irish Country Meats. Photo: Siobhan English

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Tagging issue: A general view of the sheep sale at New Ross Mart yesterday. Photo: Siobhan English

There has been much confusion among sheep farmers in relation to the new EID tagging system since it came into force on June 1.

"No one really knows what's happening," was the general consensus during the sheep sale at New Ross Mart yesterday.

"Putting a second tag on lambs seems pointless when they are most likely slaughtered 24 hours later. It just puts added stress on them. Why change a system that was working just fine. I can see the logic for traceability with ewes and older sheep, but not lambs."

While some lambs presented for sale yesterday did bear the new tag, the reading of such electronic tags will not come into operation at New Ross Mart until June 24. Upgrading of the facilities will allow them to act as a Central Points of Recording (CPR), but the computers have yet to be installed.

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The new electronic tag in the right ear of a lamb

The new electronic tag in the right ear of a lamb

The new electronic tag in the right ear of a lamb

"We are not set up for reading the electronic tags and won't be until June 24," said auctioneer Jim Bushe. "We have yet to have the system set up here."

Mr Bushe agreed that many farmers are not happy with the new system, but are afraid to speak out in fear of drawing the Department of Agriculture on themselves.

"A lot of these guys are nervous," he said. "They rely heavily on the Single Farm Payment, and if some are discovered to be non-compliant they might face an audit."

Meanwhile, Kildare Chilling has notified all farmers that they must continue to record all numbers on dockets before arrival at the factory.

Jim Murphy

Farmer

"They are the worst ever. I ordered 200 tags and they keep breaking. They are too weak to use. I have no problem with the expense of it, but just not happy with the idea of it. A lot of the older generation are getting out of farming now. Everything is so complicated and there's too much paperwork. Plus the prices are going back every year."

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Jim Murphy, his grand-daughter Katie, and Jim Sullivan of Irish Country Meats. Photo: Siobhan English

Jim Murphy, his grand-daughter Katie, and Jim Sullivan of Irish Country Meats. Photo: Siobhan English

Jim Murphy, his grand-daughter Katie, and Jim Sullivan of Irish Country Meats. Photo: Siobhan English

Fred Salter

Manager, Ballon Meats

"It is just another expense on farmers. The current system was working OK. Lambs get stressed out enough as it is and putting another tag in the ear will just make it worse. If they get stressed, the meat is damaged and unsaleable."

Jim Sullivan

Agent, Irish Country Meats

"We were told that the factory will not accept any lambs that do not have the electronic tag fitted. Everyone is talking about the new system today but in a few weeks, it will all be forgotten about."

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