Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Food and Horticulture, Jackie Cahill has said that the primary producer cannot be expected to carry the entire cost of the mandatory extension of electronic identification (EID) tagging to all sheep.

Deputy Cahill was commenting during a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture and Food where representatives from the Meat Industry Ireland and the Department of Agriculture presented and the issue of tagging was discussed.

“No one can deny that tagging brings with it many benefits, but to ask the primary producer to incur all of the costs is unfair and counterproductive.

“Tagging would probably cost 3-4% of the total value of the animal thereby making it even less economically viable for the sheep farmer to keep going.

“The Minister admitted that he expects an underspend in the Sheep Welfare Scheme, and I made the point that this could be used to help cover some of the costs associated with mandatory tagging.

“EID tagging is more expensive than traditional tagging, and bringing it for all sheep farmers will severely push them to the pin of their collars.

“There is a way to reduce the impact on sheep farmers, especially hill sheep farmers, and I am calling on the Government to look at the bigger picture, especially when there is a substantial underspend,” concluded Cahill.