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Extension of EID to All Sheep

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine announced the extension of EID to all sheep on 02 May 2018.  Following further discussions with stakeholders and having considered submissions made by various groups, the Minister decided to introduce the new requirements on a phased basis as set down below. 

With effect from 01 October 2018 all National Sheep Identification Scheme (NSIS) approved tag suppliers will only be permitted to sell electronic identifiers as follows:

  • Single yellow electronic slaughter tags which can only be used to identify lambs under 12 months of age going direct to slaughter from the holding of birth.
  • Yellow electronic tag sets and electronic bolus sets (with a blue conventional tag) for use on all other sheep.

From 01 June 2019 all sheep moved from a holding must be tagged electronically in accordance with the new rules. Electronic tags must be inserted in the right ear of the sheep. Where required, matching conventional tags will be inserted the animal’s left ear.    

One of the benefits of electronic identification is that approved marts and factories will be able to operate as Central Points of Recording (CPRs), approved by the Department. These premises will scan individual electronic tag numbers of presented sheep on behalf of farmers.  The tag numbers of all sheep presented to a CPR must be read and recorded on the CPR’s computer system.  On a practical level, farmers moving sheep to an approved CPR will not be required to list the individual tag number of each sheep in the batch on the dispatch document which must accompany batches of sheep on movement.  The section for individual tag numbers can be left blank.  All other sections of the dispatch document will continue to the completed, as is currently the case.  

The CPR will subsequently provide the farmer with a printed list of the tag numbers of all sheep presented in a specific batch for their records. In the event that some smaller marts choose not to operate as CPR’s, the dispatch documents accompanying the movement of sheep to these premises will need to be completed in full (with the individual tag numbers) prior to movement. The current requirements will also continue to apply to movements from farm to farm, shows etc.

The Minister has introduced a once-off sheep tag subsidy scheme whereby a  maximum payment of €100 will be payable to eligible keepers on the completion of their first electronic tag order between 01 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. The amount payable to each keeper is based on the first purchase of electronic tags made after 01 October 2018.  The subsidy will be calculated on the basis of €1 per single electronic tag or electronic tag set, up to a maximum payment of €100 per farmer. For example, the amount payable on a keeper’s first eligible order of 30 single electronic tags and 30 electronic tag sets will be €60 and no further subsidy will be due on subsequent orders. A minimum order of 10 electronic tags (either single, tag sets or a combination of both), resulting in a €10 payment will be required for entry into the scheme. Orders exceeding 100 electronic tags will be capped at €100 per farmer.

It is planned that payments will be made in 4 quarterly tranches during 2019, with the first payments being made in January 2019 in respect of eligible tag orders completed between 01 October and 31 December 2018.   Any tags purchased after 30 September 2019 will not be eligible for funding.  

Sheep farmers will not be required to make an application for this funding as the Department is in a position to use its records to calculate the amount due to each farmer under the scheme. Eligibility will be based on the De Minimis rules, with farmers that already reached the maximum thresholds for such payment being ineligible for payment under the electronic tag subsidy scheme.   

As previously announced, there are a variety of support measures available to sheep farmers in the TAMS II.  This includes a range of equipment and including sheep housing, mobile and fixed sheep handling equipment and sheep fencing. Applications must be submitted online through agfood.ie. Details of the Terms and Conditions of the Schemes are available on this website here

EID readers and related software have been included amongst the list of eligible investment items under TAMS II. Implementation of the new rules does not require the use of EID readers at farm level but these readers will be of benefit   for farm management purposes. 

The reference cost for the EID items are:

  • PDA EID tag reader and management software package per item €1,820.00; and
  • EID tag reader and software per item €710.00

The applicant is not restricted to any particular brand or model.

Grant aid is calculated on the basis of the lowest of the following amounts:

  1. The Department’s reference costs
  2. The total of the eligible invoices marked paid net of VAT
  3. The cost of the investment proposed by the applicant on their initial application.

The minimum amount of investment eligible per application is €2,000.  Once applicants receive their approval letter they have 6 months to submit a payment claim for mobile equipment and 12 months for fixed equipment and buildings.

The Minister announced a subvention to marts of 40% of the verified development costs (up to a maximum of €10,000 per mart) associated with the upgrading of infrastructure to facilitate them to operate effectively as CPRs, providing accurate printouts of the tag numbers of all sheep presented to farmers.

Q1. What are the main changes to the current sheep identification rules?

A1. Currently, all sheep are required to be identified electronically with a full EID tag/bolus set.

However, an exception is made for lambs slaughtered in Ireland before reaching the age of 12 months (regardless of    the number of movements or interim destinations within the 12 months period). These lambs can be identified with a single conventional tag.             

All sheep destined for export, regardless of their age, must currently be identified with a full EID tag set/electronic bolus set. This position will not change under the new rules.

Under the new rules, from 1 June 2019, all sheep must be identified electronically.

From 1 June 2019, lambs aged under 12 months, moving directly to slaughter from the holding of their birth must, at a minimum, be identified with a single yellow electronic tag in the lamb’s right ear.

 All other sheep must be identified with a full EID tag set / electronic bolus set.

Q2. When will the new rules on sheep identification come into effect?

A2. The new sheep identification rules will be introduced in two stages -   

(i) With effect from 1 October 2018, all National Sheep Identification System (NSIS) approved tag suppliers will generally only sell two tag types:

a. single electronic slaughter tags; and

b. electronic tag sets or electronic bolus sets.

(ii) With effect from 1 June 2019 all sheep moving off any holding must be identified electronically. Depending on the circumstances of their movement, they will  require either

a. a single yellow electronic slaughter tag, or

b. a yellow electronic tag set or an electronic bolus set.

Q3. When must sheep be identified?

A3.  The new arrangements do not change the timelines for identification. All sheep must be identified by 9 months of age or before leaving the holding on which they were born, whichever is the earlier date. 

Q4. What is a full EID tag set made up of?

A4. A full EID tag set comprises one yellow electronic tag  inserted in the sheep’s right ear and a corresponding yellow conventional tag, bearing the same unique identification number, inserted in the animal’s left ear.

Q5. What is an electronic bolus set?

A5. An electronic bolus set is made up of an electronic ruminal bolus which is encoded with a unique sheep identification number, and a blue conventional tag bearing the same animal identification number. The bolus is placed in the sheep’s stomach and the blue conventional tag is inserted in the sheep’s left ear. 

Q6. What do I do if one of my sheep loses the conventional element of its full EID tag set?

A6. In that circumstance you have 2 options –

(i) order a replacement conventional tag matching the number of the EID tag in the sheep’s right ear; or

(ii) remove the remaining EID tag and insert a new full EID set in the sheep’s ears. If you chose this option you must record this action in your flock register, co-relating the old tag numbers with the new ones. 

Q7. What tags do I use on lambs born prior to 1 June 2019? 

A7. Lambs aged under 12 months when moved prior to 1 June 2019 can be identified with conventional tags [mart or slaughter tags as appropriate]. If retained after 31 May 2019, these lambs must be identified with a full electronic tag set or bolus set prior to onward movement or before reaching 12 months of age, whichever is the earlier date.

Lambs born on your holding in 2018 or 2019 that are not intended to be moved from there before 1 June 2019 should be identified electronically (with a single electronic tag in the right ear if it is intended to move the lambs directly to slaughter before reaching 12 months of age, or alternatively, with a full EID tag/bolus set). This will avoid the need for the upgrading of tags from 1 June 2019.  

Q8. Under the new rules what tags must I use for a lamb moving to a slaughter plant via another farm or a mart?

A8. From 1 June 2019, all sheep moving other than directly to slaughter from the holding of the animal’s birth must be identified with a full EID tag set or a full electronic bolus set. This includes lambs that are moved to slaughter via any other holding/holdings. Therefore, all lambs that move to another holding, mart etc. before moving to a slaughter plant must be identified with a full EID tag set/ electronic bolus set. Proper identification of these lambs will be the subject of DAFM checks to ensure compliance.  

Q9. Why is there a need to change the current sheep tagging arrangement?

A9. The current national sheep identification system (NSIS) is widely acknowledged to be very complex, with an over-reliance on the manual transcription of individual sheep identification numbers on dispatch documents which must accompany all sheep on movement.  This has led, in the past, to traceability issues being identified which, if not addressed, could pose a risk to animal health and welfare in the Irish sheep sector.

The extension of electronic identification will simplify the sheep tagging system and will reduce the record keeping requirements for sheep farmers moving sheep to livestock marts and slaughter plants operating as approved Central Points of Recording (CPRs).

The use of EID for all sheep will allow for the accurate electronic recording of all sheep identification numbers, something that is essential for an effective traceability system that will provide quick and effective trace back in the event of any disease outbreak.

This approach will protect Ireland’s disease status, resulting in better animal health and public health outcomes. 

The move to full EID will protect Ireland’s reputation as a source of safe and secure food and will put Ireland’s sheep traceability system on a par with other major competitor exporting countries in maintaining and securing new international markets for Irish sheep meat.

Q10. What are Central Points of Recording?

A10. Central Points of Recording (CPRs) are typically marts and slaughter plants approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to record the individual numbers of sheep moved to those premises as part of a batch, accompanied by a sheep dispatch document.

The CPR will subsequently provide the farmer with a printed list of the tag numbers of all sheep presented in a specific batch, for their records. Therefore, farmers moving sheep to an approved CPR will not be required to list the individual identification number of each sheep moved on the dispatch document accompanying the sheep on movement.

No premises can operate as a CPR unless approved to do so by DAFM. Once approved, CPRs will be in a position to provide a print-out of the individual numbers of all sheep presented to them within a specific batch to the presenting keeper.  The first approved CPRs will be in operation from 1 June 1 2019.

Q11. How will I know if the mart or slaughter plant that I intend to go to is an approved CPR?

A11. A list of approved CPRs will be published and kept updated on the DAFM website

Q12. I am moving my sheep to an approved CPR – what do I need to do?

A12.  As conventional tags will be permitted up to 31 May 2019, current practices at marts and slaughter plants will not change before 1 June 2019. Premises wishing to operate as approved CPRs have until 1 June 2019 to upgrade their facilities to enable them to provide a print-out of the individual numbers of all sheep presented to them within a specific batch.

When moving sheep to an approved CPR from 1 June 2019, they must continue to be accompanied by a sheep dispatch document, as is currently the case. However, because the CPR will provide a list of the individual tag numbers of the sheep presented at the CPR, you will not be required to write the individual numbers of the tags on the first part of the document. You simply need to record the total number of sheep in the batch, in the relevant box. All other parts of the dispatch document must be completed as normal.

All sheep presented at a CPR will be scanned on the premises and the CPR will subsequently provide the presenting keeper with a list of presented tag numbers (LPT) in respect of each batch. The printed CPR list should be provided as soon as possible but within a maximum of 48 hours. The list is a very important document as it provides the required details of individual tag numbers presented in association with a particular dispatch  document. Having checked the CPR list for completeness, the presenting keeper must associate it with the relevant dispatch document and keep it safely for record-keeping purposes.

Q13. How will I know which dispatch document to associate with the CPR list?

A13. DAFM will issue each registered sheep flock keeper with a new book of dispatch documents prior to 1 June 2019. Each of the new dispatch documents will be allocated an individual barcoded serial number linked to a specific herd number.

The list provided by the CPR will record the serial number of the dispatch document associated with it. For example, if your document serial number is 12345-0001, this number will be also be listed on the printed list provided to you by the CPR.

Q14. What happens if a tag doesn’t scan at an approved CPR?

A14. CPRs will be required to make provision for manually entering any tag number that does not register at the time of scanning. You should check the list carefully and be satisfied that the total number of tags recorded on the list provided by the CPR is the same as the total number listed on the associated dispatch document.

Q15. Am I responsible for checking the detail on the printed tag list provided by the CPR?

A15.  As soon as you receive the printed list from the CPR you should satisfy yourself that the total number of the tags listed on it is the same as the total number of sheep you declared in  the corresponding dispatch document. In the unusual event that a discrepancy occurs, you should bring this to the attention of the CPR immediately in order to resolve the issue.

Q16. What must I do if a discrepancy is discovered by DAFM between the dispatch document and the list provided by the CPR ?

A16. Where a discrepancy is identified by you or DAFM arising from a CPR transaction, you must contact  CPR operator to determine the origin of the error and to resolve the issue.  

Q17. When will CPRs be in a position to provide a list of tag numbers to farmers?

A17. Each individual premises seeking approval to operate as a CPR will have to modify its intake arrangements and put the necessary infrastructure and systems in place to be in a position to provide a list of tag numbers to farmers.  All premises approved to operate as CPRs must be able to provide lists of tag numbers to farmers from 1 June 2019. It is possible, however, that individual operations may take longer to be in a position to provide this service. 

Q18. EID tags are more expensive than conventional tags - what financial supports will be provided to farmers to ease the transition to the new rules?

A18. A once-off tag subsidy will be made available for purchase of EID tags during the first year of the new rules.

In addition, electronic readers and related software will be included as eligible investments under TAMs.  

Q19. How does the once-off EID tag subsidy work?

A19.  The once-off electronic (EID) tag subsidy will apply to the first eligible order for electronic sheep tags placed by a keeper between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. A subsidy of €1 will be applied to each electronic tag purchased, with a maximum of €100 payable per farmer. This will be based on the number of electronic tags purchased in that first order. The first order will include all purchases ordered on a single day. Orders can be made up of single electronic tags, electronic tag sets, electronic bolus sets or a combination of any of these tag types.

 For example, a farmer purchasing 100 electronic tags of any type in his/her first eligible order will receive a €100 subsidy payment and a farmer purchasing 55 tags will be paid €55. Farmers purchasing in excess of 100 tags will be limited to a total subsidy of €100.

 For administration purposes, the minimum subsidy payable will be €10 (based on the purchase of a minimum of 10 electronic tags).

Q20. Are all sheep farmers eligible for the EID tag subsidy?

A20.  All active sheep flock keepers registered with the Department are eligible for the scheme.

However payments will be made under the De Minimis rules so where keepers have already exceeded the maximum payment threshold under that scheme, they will not be eligible for additional payment under the EID tag scheme.  It is expected that the numbers falling into this category will be very small.

Q21. What are the De Minimis rules?

A21. Agriculture De Minimis schemes provide aid to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and larger undertakings active in the primary production of agricultural products. Under the scheme rules, the individual maximum amount payable per single undertaking across all De Minimis schemes is set at a total of €15,000 over a three year rolling period. The list below details the De Minimis schemes currently in operation:

  • Premium from Kerry cattle live calves
  • BVD Scheme
  • Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP)
  • Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP)
  • Beef Genomics Scheme
  • Milking Skills Programme paid by Farm Relief Service
  • Superlevy Instalment Scheme
  • Fodder Damage Aid Scheme 2016
  • Emergency Flood Damage Relief Scheme 2016
  • SEAI Scheme – Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
  • Weather Related Crop Loss Support Measure 2017
  • Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme
  • Donegal Flash Flood Relief Measure 2017
  • Fodder Transport Support Measure 2018
  • Fodder Import Support Measure 2018
  • Fodder Import Scheme Autumn 2018
  • Fodder Production Incentive Measure for Tillage Farmers 2018
  • EID Tags Scheme 2018

Q22. How do I apply for payment of the EID tag subsidy?

A22. You do not need to make an application for this payment, as the Department is in a position to use its records to calculate the amount due to each farmer under the scheme.

Q23. When will I be paid the tag subsidy?

A23. The amount payable to each keeper is based on the first eligible purchase of electronic tags made between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019. 

Individual payments will be made in one of 4 quarterly tranches across 2019, with the first payments being made in January 2019 for those qualifying keepers who purchased tags between 1st October and 31 December 2018.

3 further payment tranches will be processed in April, July and October 2019 for farmers who’s first orders is completed up to 30 September 2019.

Tags purchased after 30 September 2019 will not be eligible for funding. 

Q24. Do I need to buy all my tags together to ensure that I get the full subsidy?

A24. The EID tag subsidy is a once-off payment. The full subsidy of a maximum of €100 is based only on the first completed order for electronic tags made between 1 October 2018 and 30 September 2019.  Accordingly, the size of your first tag order completed during that time will determine the amount that you will be paid. You are therefore advised to    maximise the first order you make between those dates. Subsequent orders for electronic tags will not qualify for payment.

Each individual flock is allocated a maximum number of tags that can be purchased in a particular year, based on the number of sheep kept on that holding. These tag order thresholds will continue to apply.

Q25. What is the position with using up stocks of conventional tags?

A25. Stocks of conventional mart and slaughter tags purchased before 1 October 2018 can be used on sheep that will be moved up to and including 31 May 2019. However, all sheep moved from 1 June 2019 must be identified with electronic tags, as required under the new rules.

Q26. Will single EID tags be acceptable at slaughter plants before 1 June 2019?

A26. Yes – however - factories seeking approval to operate as CPRs are not required to have printing facilities, for lists of tag numbers scanned in place, until 1 June 2019. Where this facility is not being provided by the slaughter plant, you will continue to be required to fill in dispatch dockets with individual tag numbers until the slaughter plant has CPR facilities.

Q27. Can I use  a mixture of  old conventional slaughter tags and new EID tags  to send lambs less than 12 months of age to the slaughter plant as one consignment?

A27. Yes – but only until 31 May 2019. You can use a combination of old slaughter tags and new EID tags on sheep being moved up to 31 May 2019. If moving such mixed loads however, you will continue to be required to enter all individual tag numbers onto the dispatch document.

With effect from 1 June 2019, all sheep moved from your holding must be identified electronically - there will be no circumstances where single conventional tags will be permitted.

Q28. If I have old mart tags and new EID tags, can I use both to send lambs less than 12 months of age to the mart or for farm to farm sales as one consignment?

A28. Yes - but only until 31 May 2019. You can use a combination of old mart tags and new EID tags on lambs moving  prior to  June 2019 – however in such cases, you will need to enter the details of all individual tags onto the dispatch document.

 With effect from 1 June 2019, all sheep moved via marts and farm-to-farm must be identified with a full EID tag set/bolus set – single conventional mart tags will not be permitted.

Q29.  If I have old conventional tags left over on 1 June 2019, can I continue to use them?

A29. No - from 1 June 2019, only EID tags may be used to identify sheep on movement, regardless of where they are moving to.  

Lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter must be identified with a single yellow electronic tag and all other sheep must be identified with a full yellow EID tag set or a bolus set.

There are no circumstances under which sheep can move with a single conventional tag, with effect from 1st June 2019

        White single slaughter tags may not be used to identify sheep from 1 June 2019.

 If you have stocks of yellow mart tags on hand, you may order a corresponding electronic tag for these, to make up a full EID set. In that regard, you must notify your chosen tag supplier of the individual tag numbers for which you require a corresponding electronic component.

Q30.  Can I get replacements for lost non-EID tags after 1 October 2018?

A30.  Yes - replacement of the conventional element of an EID set will continue to be available, where required.

Q31. What ear is the electronic tag applied to?

A31. An electronic tag must be applied to the sheep’s right ear. The conventional element of the EID tag set /bolus set must be placed in the left ear of a sheep.

Q32. What supports are available under TAMS in the context of Sheep EID?

A32. Electronic readers and associated software are included as eligible investments in the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme II (TAMS II) to assist farmers in flock management. The reference cost for the EID items are:

(i) PDA EID tag reader and management software package per item €1,820.00; and

(ii) EID tag reader and software per item €710.00

Grant aid is set at a rate of 40%. Applicants are not restricted to any particular brand or model. Applications must be submitted online through agfood.ie

There are a variety of support measures in the TAMS II schemes which sheep farmers can avail of including a range of equipment and including sheep housing, mobile and fixed sheep handling equipment and sheep fencing. 

 Full details of the Terms and Conditions of the Schemes are available on this website at                 https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemespayments/tams

Q33. Do I have to buy a tag reader and other software to comply with the new rules?

A33. No – tag readers are not required for the extension of EID to all sheep. However,  the use of electronic tags provides an opportunity to increase and improve flock management and tag readers and printers etc. could be very useful in this regard.

ENDS