The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has announced the mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) to all sheep.
The new rules will require all sheep sold from October 1, 2018, onwards to be identified electronically. This timeframe, the Department said, will allow farmers a reasonable period of time to use up stocks of tags on hand. The Minister added that he intends to introduce a one-off support measure up to a maximum of €50 per keeper for the first purchase of EID tags.
Lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will be required to be identified with a single electronic tag. All other sheep will require an EID tag set comprised of two tags – one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag. However a conventional tag and an EID bolus will be permitted also.
The Minister stated that “the simplified rules will provide a more robust sheep traceability system and 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 sheepmeat, in line with the development goals for the sheep industry, as detailed in the Food Wise 2025 strategy”.
He added: “ Tthis measure will simplify the sheep tagging system and will significantly reduce the record keeping requirements for sheep farmers moving sheep to livestock marts, slaughter plants and export assembly centres.”
The Minister further announced that electronic tag readers and associated software are included as eligible investments in the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) scheme to assist sheep farmers in flock management. He stressed however, that tag readers are not a requirement for the new sheep identification system.
The Minister expects these measures will further enhance the attractiveness of Irish lamb in international markets. “I am very keen to ensure that we make further progress in relation to sheepmeat access to third countries in 2018 and beyond, including the US, as well as considering the potential of sheepmeat access to Japan and other markets. The introduction of full EID will allow us to further enhance our reputation as producers of traceable, sustainable, high quality sheep meat and will be vital in ensuring we can export our sheep meat into as many markets as possible,” The Minister added.