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Minister Welcomes Recognition by European Commission of Issues of Concern to Ireland in the Implementation of EID for Sheep

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mr Brendan Smith TD, today welcomed the Commission recognition of Irish concerns in relation to the implementation of electronic identification (EID) in sheep.

The Minister has consistently opposed the mandatory introduction of EID and continues to seek its introduction across the Irish sheep industry on a voluntary basis.  Following consultation with relevant stakeholders, a number of ways in which EID could be implemented in a way best suited to Irish conditions were identified.

The Minister has repeatedly pressed the Commission on these issues and is glad to say that he has been effective in winning significant concessions that will ease the burden on the sector in implementing EID.  These were approved by Member States at this week's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCOFCAH).

Ireland has played a leading role in these discussions. Under the revised regulation, all lambs intended for slaughter and under 12 months old can now be exempted from EID.  Furthermore, where these lambs are subsequently retained for breeding purposes they can then be tagged with an EID device at the second holding.  This is a major breakthrough in facilitating existing trade practice in the sector.

This addresses concerns raised by Irish farming organisations that the new EID system would eliminate the sale of breeding sheep at marts, which would have an adverse effect on competitiveness in the industry.

While the Minister will continue to impress on the Commission and his European Colleagues at the Council his view that EID should proceed in a voluntary capacity, he nevertheless welcomes these amended regulations as an important step in the right direction.  The Minister stated that he and his Department will continue to work with the sector in the lead up to the implementation of EID.

Date Released: 16 July 2009