IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman James Murphy said the move by ICOS would undermine IFA’s work at national and EU level to find a practical solution for farmers and the sheep industry to the clear difficulties associated with compulsorily EID. He said IFA would continue to work to find an acceptable solution in the best interests of farmers.
James Murphy said IFA has always argued the mart trade couldn’t be placed at a competitive disadvantage on sheep identification and insisted that lambs can be sold in the marts with an ordinary mart tag, which is currently the case.
James Murphy said IFA had recently put forward proposals from the sheep sector which would allow finishers to continue to re-tag lambs with a single EID tag. He said this practical solution would protect store lamb sellers, the marts and lamb finishers. He said if the facility to re-tag lambs is withdrawn and sellers are forced to use EID, it will drive sheep away from the marts and damage price competition.
On a broader front, James Murphy said IFA highlighted the significant issues of animal welfare problems and infected ears in sheep with tagging and EID. In addition, he said sheep are very different to cattle in that they are farmed and traded in flocks and batches as opposed to individual animals. He said an EID based CMMS type system is totally unworkable for sheep and would be a nightmare in terms of penalties.
James Murphy also pointed out that the EU had made it very clear that they were not willing to allow any level of tolerances for reading errors on EID despite the fact that trials had shown accuracy levels were ranging from 85% to 95%. He said the EU had made it clear that farmers would have to carry the Single Farm Payment penalties and costs associated with any reading errors. James Murphy said this is totally impractical and unacceptable.