Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

Tags out for tender as Dept drive EID

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Tag companies have been asked to tender for the contract to provide electronic tagging services to the Department of Agriculture.

Despite widespread farmer opposition to the implementation of electronic identification (EID) in Ireland, Department officials are pushing ahead with plans for the new tagging system.

The Department has confirmed that all sheep and goats born this year must be tagged with new 12-digit tags.

The tags are part of a phased transition to the controversial EID system.

Department officials have stated that new 12-digit tags will be available to sheep and goat flock owners during the first half of this year. New flock designators will be issued to sheep and goat keepers prior to the introduction of the new tag numbers.

Farmers who have remaining stocks of 13-digit tags can continue to use them for animals born before January 1. However, the new tags/numbers apply to animals born this year.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Minister Brendan Smith intends to minimise costs for producers by availing of a slaughter derogation that allows for the vast majority of Irish sheep to be excluded from the EID requirement.

It is expected that mandatory EID will apply to no more than 18pc of the national flock. Some 70pc of Irish flocks are of 100 sheep or less and in these cases no more than 20 animals will be affected.

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The Department has circulated a technical document outlining the proposed changes to the current National Sheep Identification System.

Minister Smith has urged the stakeholders to examine this document carefully and engage with officials so that any revisions that are made to the system will best suit Irish conditions.

He said the intention was to minimise the burden on farmers, while respecting these new mandatory EU regulations.

However, newly elected IFA national sheep committee chairman James Murphy said compulsory EID would inflict serious economic and unnecessary damage on the Irish sheep sector and could not be justified.

Mr Murphy said the IFA will be requesting that Minister Smith moves to secure a voluntary option for Ireland with regard to EID.

He said with its existing tagging system, Ireland should be able to obtain a derogation from compulsory EID similar to that already allowed for smaller sheep countries in Europe.

Mr Murphy claimed that compulsory EID will make the store lamb trade impossible to operate and will also seriously damage the breeding sheep sales in the marts.

He pointed out that tags will cost €2-2.50 -- equivalent to charging a cattle farmer more than €30 to tag an animal.

He said a legal challenge to the imposition of EID is being considered by the Germans and several other countries.

"The Irish Government must strongly support this challenge, and the IFA has already told colleagues in Germany that Irish sheep farmers will support such a case," he said.

Irish Independent