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Minister Coughlan announces changes to simplify the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS)

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today announced a number of changes to simplify aspects of the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS).

The Minister said that following discussions at EU level, and national consultations, she is now in a position to make adjustments to the flock register, the dispatch document and to the tagging requirements for bought-in sheep. New formats for the flock registers and dispatch documents have now been agreed and finalised and will be supplied directly to flock owners in early autumn.

"The new formats meet the EU requirements and will significantly reduce the amount of recording that will have to be undertaken by flock owners. In particular, the dispatch document will now have certain details pre-printed and will therefore be more user friendly" said the Minister.

The Minister is also providing for a significant change to the tagging requirements for bought-in sheep under NSIS. In future, sheep bought for fattening may be tagged on exit from the new holding rather than on entry as previously required (however, all such sheep must be tagged by 1 May following purchase). This new regime will thereby reduce the workload for flock owners.

Minister Coughlan said that the identification system was a legal requirement across the EU and she was aware that they imposed a burden on producers. However it was vital in ensuring traceability, particularly in the context of animal disease controls. "We must not lose our focus on this as we strive to develop additional markets for our product - but wherever requirements can be eased without compromising traceabilty this will be done" the Minister said.

Concluding, the Minister said she would continue to reflect on further measures that might be made to the system.

13 June, 2006

Date Released: 13 June 2006