Dairy debate: should EID be made compulsory in the future?

Should cattle EID be made mandatory in the future? Rhian Price asks the industry.

EID should be made compulsory –

Chris Dodds, Livestock Auctioneers Association

“I believe that EID will help the industry throughout. The majority of dairy farmers use some form of electronic identification already for milk recording and in and out of parlour feeding.

“If EID can be implemented in a way that utilises the current system it will be beneficial to the industry and it will help cut costs.”

Mr Dodds said EID could also help to make the identification of animals at market more accurate and less time-consuming for staff.

“Electronic EID would simplify the process. Under EU law the country could get rid of paper passports so we can do away with the bureaucracy.

“There would also be less chance for human error.

“With the permission of farmers we, as auctioneers, could use it to extract information about the health of animals, which we can use at the point of sale.”

Mr Dodds said it would also give buyers a better indication of the health status of the farm they are purchasing animals from.

“But we can’t afford to have some animals with EID and some without. We need to maintain a level playing field.”

Instead, Mr Dodds argues EID should be made compulsory.

“Everything born after a certain date should be tagged with electronic devices.”

But he said that farmers shouldn’t be forced to invest in full EID reader equipment at farm level.

“If farmers want to use EID as a tool they can, but if they don’t they should be allowed to carry on with what they are doing now.”

EID should not be made compulsory –

Joseph Keating, NFU Livestock adviser

“The NFU supports a voluntary approach to cattle EID. Compulsory implementation would put a significant cost on the industry.

“A voluntary approach will allow individual farmers to identify the benefits of EID for themselves and allow for better buy-in from the industry.”

He said if it was made compulsory it could economically disadvantage small-scale farmers.

“There are farmers who currently have management systems in place that will not benefit from bovine EID and associated electronic tags would be a cost to their business.”

But Mr Keating said lessons needed to be learnt so that problems didn’t mirror those caused by sheep EID.

“We want to be reassured that farmers aren’t penalised due to failures in the technology and through no fault of their own. Farmers who voluntarily chose to use EID need to be confident the technology can deliver the accuracy that government requires.”

He said research into tags was necessary to achieve this.

“We want to see the use of a tag that is proven, reliable and has international accreditation. Also the regulation should be future proofed to allow for any advancements in technology to be adopted as and when appropriate.”

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