Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Chairman of Stormont’s Agriculture Committee William Irwin MLA has said cattle ID tagging rule changes will “be a real benefit to farmers”.
Mr Irwin said he had lobbied extensively as chairman of the committee for the rules to be reviewed and the tagging threshold expanded and had also made the case for any changes to be back dated to January 2014.
In recent months Mr Irwin met the DARD Minister and challenged officials to review the rules in order to make the scheme more manageable for farmers.
He stated: “This was an issue that I was intent on bringing to a successful conclusion, especially as it was clear other regions in the UK were operating differently in this regard.
“I knew there was certainly scope to make the changes and it was important that DARD was encouraged to take the steps to review the matter and put in place more manageable arrangements on tagging.
“I felt during my meetings both within the committee and in other conversations that there was a realisation by DARD officials that progress could be made on these matters.”
He added: “Having a 15% threshold on missing single tags across all herds makes sense and is much more workable across any herd size which is where the previous rules caused so much concern.
“I was assured in committee by officials that they would be focusing on applying the new rules retrospectively and I am pleased to see that the department has kept to their word and will be back dating the ruling to January 2014.”
He concluded: “Having the new rules applied retrospectively will essentially put money back into the pocket of the farmer which is something that will be widely welcomed by the industry.
“It is therefore vital that DARD work quickly in this regard and move to redress previous penalties.”