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Written Answers - Electronic Tagging

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 755 No. 1

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 13.  Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris  asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  his plans to introduce a streamlined, simplified and inexpensive system for sheep tagging and movement tracking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7066/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As part of the revision to the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS) consequent, on the introduction of electronic identification of sheep in 2010, across the E.U, my Department has already introduced a new system for sheep tagging. Before introducing this new system my Department consulted widely with the industry. The purpose of these discussions was, within the regulation, to implement a system that best suited Irish conditions.

I can tell the Deputy that as a result of these consultations it was decided to apply the so called slaughter derogation. The result of this decision is that all lambs going for slaughter before 12 months of age are permanently exempted from EID. This decision means that the vast majority of Irish sheep can still continue to be tagged with a single conventional tag and the mandatory application of electronic tagging has been confined to a relatively small proportion of the national flock, namely, breeding sheep born since 2010 and sheep being exported live.

My advice to farmers in relation to tagging is that where lambs are going directly to the slaughterhouse from the holding of origin, a single conventional slaughter tag will, as before, continue to suffice. However, where farmers are selling lambs through a mart there is a definite advantage in tagging them with an EID tag set or bolus set when leaving the holding of origin. Animals so identified require no further tagging to comply with EU or NSIS rules and can be slaughtered, retained for breeding or exported and traceability is fully maintained.

[101]On the question of cost, there are a variety of NSIS approved tags types available from a number of approved suppliers which allows farmers to shop around for the cheapest and most appropriate tags for their own particular requirements.

With regard to sheep movement, these are recorded on my Departments Sheep Movement Database which is contained within the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) System. In order to keep movement recording as simple as possible while meeting the EU requirements for traceability, the system records sheep movements on a ‘lot’ basis rather than an individual animal basis. The vast majority of movements are notified on behalf of keepers by the factories, marts, abattoirs etc. that are dealing with the sheep and the only movements that farmers are required to notify the Department of are sheep purchased directly from another farm.

I should add that my Department has again held recent consultations with stakeholders regarding the current design of the NSIS and continues to liaise regarding further possible improvements to the system that may be required in the light of experience.

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