Thursday, 15 October 2009

Questions (30, 31)

Pat Breen

Question:

30 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the proposal for electronic tagging of sheep; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36240/09]

View answer

Tom Sheahan

Question:

87 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the programme for electronic tagging of sheep has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36192/09]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 87 together.

The introduction of electronic identification (EID) for sheep was agreed at EU level in late 2003. At that time, it was agreed to defer the implementation date until January 2008. The Council revisited this issue in December 2007 when it was agreed that the deadline for the compulsory introduction of EID should be definitively set for 31 December 2009. I have consistently opposed the mandatory introduction of EID and have sought its introduction across the Irish sheep industry on a voluntary basis. There has, however, been a lack of support from other EU Member States or from the European Commission for a voluntary scheme. In these circumstances, and notwithstanding my opposition to EID, I have had my Department engage with the European Commission and other Member States, in an effort to secure amendments so as to achieve the best implementation conditions for Irish sheep farmers.

I am glad to say that a number of significant concessions that should ease the burden on the sector in implementing EID were recently agreed with the Commission and other Member States. This is an important step in the right direction. I should say that for my part I am anxious that whatever system is finally implemented imposes the least burden possible on the sheep sector.