Electronic sheep tagging decision challenged

The cost of electronic sheep tagging far outweighs the benefits with regard to traceability, and the introduction of this measure could be the death knell for the sheep industry in Ireland.

This was stated by Marian Harkin MEP speaking in the European Parliament in support of a petition that a cost benefit analysis of the implications of electronic sheep tagging for farmers should be carried out before it is introduced in the European Union.

“According to EU legislation, electronic tagging will come into force on January 1, with official documents produced by the Commission showing that over 90 per cent of the costs will occur on farms, with farmers paying virtually all of the costs,” she said.

“In a country like Ireland where 77 per cent of flocks contain fewer than 100 animals, the cost per sheep will escalate and will make an already difficult enterprise for sheep farmers totally unviable. So Irish sheep farmers will be doubly disadvantaged. Firstly in relation to other EU sheep farmers with larger flocks and lower costs and secondly several member states are funding much of the costs involved.”

Ms Harkin continued that they are particularly disadvantaged by imports from third world countries not being subject to the same traceability regime imposed on EU farmers. She said this was highlighted in the Parliament last week when Commissioner Vassilou, speaking of traceability measures in third world countries stated: “The scope of these rules is much more limited than the rules in force in the EU”.

  “Finally a very significant number of member states are now fully recognising the consequences of the decision which was taken in the wake of the foot and mouth crisis and we need to revisit this decision and at the very least carry out a cost benefit analysis before we impose further and, in my opinion, unnecessary costs on sheep farmers,” Ms Harkin concluded.

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