Tag delays may hinder sheep live export trade
Delays in the delivery of 12-digit tags for the electronic tagging of sheep (EID) could have serious implications for the live export trade to Britain and France.
Last year live exports were critical in putting a floor on the trade, particularly for cull ewes, with shippers moving close to 120,000hd mainly to Britain and France.
However, as France and Britain are expected to insist on imported stock having an EID bolus or tag from June, it is feared the trade could be seriously curtailed.
At present, shippers are putting an EID tag on stock which has a reference back to the exporter. They then have the dispatch dockets to complete the traceability trail back to individual flocks.
However, it is unclear whether this system will be acceptable to the authorities in France and Britain after the June deadline.
Farmer groups and exporters are now seeking a definite timeframe for the delivery of the new 12-digit electronic tags to flock owners.
Meanwhile, IFA national sheep chairman James Murphy has warned that the introduction of EID cannot be allowed to disrupt the ongoing recovery in the sheep trade.
"It would be absolutely catastrophic if the recovery that is now appearing in the sheep sector was to be undermined by EID," Mr Murphy said.