Irish mandatory electronic sheep tagging: the pros and cons

By Ashley Williams contact

- Last updated on GMT

The new rule will become effective from the 1 October 2018
The new rule will become effective from the 1 October 2018
Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced this week that electronic identification for Irish sheep would become mandatory, producing a divided opinion among the Republic’s farming sector.

Effective from 1 October 2018, the decision means all sheep must be identified electronically with an EID tag set comprised of two tags – one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag.

An exception is made for lambs slaughtered before reaching the age of 12 months where they will be identified with a single conventional tag.

GlobalMeatNews​ presents some of the positives and the negatives outlined by the industry.

‘Adding insult to injury’

Irish Farmers Association (IFA) president Joe Healy reacted negatively to the decision made by the Agriculture Minister, describing it as “astonishing​” due to the fodder crisis and the financial pressures sheep farmers underwent over the winter.

The Minister is ignoring farmers and appears to be dancing to the tune of the meat factories, which are pushing hardest for EID​,” said Healy.

He added: “Sheep farmers will be really angry with this announcement from the Minister as they see everybody benefiting except farmers, who will have to pick up all of the costs. In addition, it comes on top of the Clean Sheep policy, which the Minister imposed earlier this year and has caused immense hardship for the sector​.”

The views were echoed by IFA chairman Sean Dennehy who said the decision was “unacceptable​” as Minister Creed did not engage in any consultation with farmers on the move.

This is unfair and not a good way to do business​,” said Dennehy. “The lack of consultation on the issue is evident from the proposal to try and impose EID in October.  This is totally flawed in that it gets the timing all wrong for the trade​.”

‘Support and develop the sheep industry’

Creed’s decision may not be favoured by the IFA, but he strongly believed that the new rule would provide a more robust sheep traceability system that will further support the development and sustainability of the sheep industry.

The improved traceability system will assist in maintaining existing markets and in securing new international outlets for Irish sheep meat, in line with the development goals for the sheep industry, as detailed in the Food Wise 2025 strategy​,” said Creed.

Elaborating on international markets, Creed said these measures would further enhance the attractiveness of Irish lamb in global markets.

This enhancement of the current sheep identification system will allow the sheep sector to further develop and build on its impressive performance. In 2016, we saw the sector increase the value of its exports by 3% in volume and 4% in value to €240 million, supporting some 35,000 farm families directly in addition to supporting several thousand jobs indirectly in rural area​.”

Creed intends to support the farming industry with a one-off support measure of €50 per keeper for the first purchase of EID tags.

Related topics: Ireland, Livestock, Lamb

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