Concern on herd number transfers

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Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and chairman of the Stormont Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has accused the Department of Agriculture of dragging its heels on the issue of the transfer of historic herd numbers within families.

Mr Irwin revealed that in 2009 a decision was taken by the department not to permit the transfer of herd numbers between family members.

He also revealed that he has had a steady stream of farming families contact him who are concerned that such numbers cannot be transferred.

Mr Irwin explained: “I have made official representations to the minister on this issue as it is of great importance to those families who have held a specific herd number, in some cases upwards of 50 years and there is an obvious sentimental value attached to it.

“Given that in many cases the original keeper of the herd number has passed away, it should really be a straightforward procedure to permit another family member to register that number in their name and continue with that traditional number.”

He added: “Despite receiving an assurance from the minister some months ago that her officials were studying this issue, still no decision has been taken.

“In the past week another two families have contacted me who were told by DARD that they could not transfer the number to the new herd keeper.

“ I will continue to lobby the minister and her officials on this matter and I would urge Michelle O’Neill to put the necessary changes in place to permit this straightforward transfer,” Mr Irwin concluded.