ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks has said while some sense has prevailed with regard to mandatory EID tagging for all sheep, the substantive issues have not gone away.
Mr Brooks was responding to amendments to the scheme announced by Minister Michael Creed.
"With a new start date of June 2019 for the introduction of EID mandatory tagging, the Minister is essentially just kicking the can down the road. The extra costs associated will be on-going for sheep farmers so if the Department and the meat industry wish to proceed with this, they should pay for it on an on-going basis," he said.
ICSA has calculated that mandatory EID tagging will add some €2.5m cost to sheep farmers, based on additional costs of €1/lamb and a throughput of some 2.5 million lambs/annum. However, the average profit per lamb is about €14, based on an annual average price of €100 or €4.80/kg over the past five years. It costs the average Teagasc profit monitor farmer €86 to produce a lamb. So when the Minister adds €1 cost to a lamb producing €14 profit, he is imposing a 7 per cent income cut.
“There is absolutely no appetite among sheep farmers for this as costs are continually rising while incomes are falling. In addition, EID tagging won’t alter the current batch system of traceability that meat plants use after slaughter. ICSA therefore believes it is disingenuous to imply that mandatory tagging is a requirement to access a myriad of new markets. Indeed, relevant bodies now have until next June to show us exactly what additional markets they can secure based on mandatory EID alone. That will be the real proof," said Mr Brooks.
Meanwhile, IFA president Joe Healy said that it was clear that Minister Creed was not listening to sheep farmers.
“Sheep farmers are very annoyed with the Minister over his failure to support them in the fodder crisis and the way he allowed the factories imposed additional operational costs on them under the clean lamb policy. The Minister is now pilling additional costs on top of sheep farmers with EID,” he said.
IFA national sheep chairman Sean Dennehy described the deferral to June 1, 2019, as a “help”.
He said IFA had pointed out to the Department that there were no traceability benefits at all from imposing EID on sheep that go from the farm of origin directly to slaughter.
Mr Dennehy said the EU regulations provide that it was not necessary to apply EID to these sheep.