The main beneficiaries of bovine electronic ID (EID) tagging are “outside the farm gate” and these benefits “will not be passed back to farmers”, according to the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).

IFA animal health committee chair Pat Farrell said that, in his view, “farmers are left exposed to the additional cost of EID tags” and outlined how the IFA has called for “the full additional cost of EID tags to be covered” by the Department.

Farrell was speaking following the announcement by the Department last week that farmers will receive a maximum payment of €100 per herd to offset the additional costs of moving to mandatory bovine electronic identification from 1 July 2022.

Subvention payment

Acknowledging the provision of the €4.25m subvention scheme for bovine EID tags announced by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, Farrell said the Minister “needs to go further”.

He said that while the subvention scheme offsets the cost of EID tags for "most farmers for a period of time", it “still leaves additional and unnecessary costs on breeding farms”.

He continued: “For farmers to accrue any benefit from these tags they will need a tag reader. The Minister must provide direct support to all farmers purchasing tag readers for the full cost that will be incurred.”

He said the “scheme must be extended to include all tags purchased by farmers” and “must be amended to also cover the additional cost of replacement EID tags”. Such tags are more expensive than conventional tags.

Farrell also pointed out that farmers will purchase their tag requirements for 2022 in advance of 1 January. The IFA has said “all EID tags that are purchased prior to 1 January must be eligible for the subvention payment”.

Not necessary

Farrell clarified that the changes to Ireland's bovine identification system are “not a legislative requirement” and that they have been based on a decision taken by the Minister to “facilitate meat factories, marts, large feedlots and other service providers”.

“The main beneficiaries of bovine EID are outside the farm gate. These benefits will not be passed back to farmers, while farmers are left exposed to the additional cost of EID tags.”