Newry & Armagh DUP Assemblyman and Stormont Agriculture Committee member William Irwin MLA has welcomed a positive resolution by DARD on the issue of cattle ear tag compliance.
Mr Irwin had lobbied extensively on behalf of farmers in response to DARD’s enforcement of a rule that no more than 20 missing single tags was permissible regardless of the size of the herd.
Mr Irwin stated: “DARD originally had set a threshold for missing single tags at 10% of the herd or critically a maximum of 20 missing single tags. On the basis that many farmers had contacted me who were concerned by this threshold and the difficulties it was presenting, I commenced a lobby of DARD on this matter and I am pleased to say my efforts have been recognised and DARD have put forward, what I believe is a sensible solution.
“DARD has now moved to increase the threshold to a maximum of 15% regardless of the herd size and will be in effect back dating this revised policy from January 2014. Everyone will agree that this is a much more workable and logical solution, as the previous arrangement was proving to be totally unworkable and unrealistic especially for farmers with larger herds.
“Other parts of the UK operate different rules in regards to missing single tags and on that basis I felt that DARD would be able to revise this and move to a more workable solution and that has been proven to be the case.
“My own family farm has a larger herd of cattle and there is no doubt that the effort involved in meeting the previous lower threshold was a huge challenge and indeed many farmers had fallen foul of this lower threshold. What is important is that the new threshold will be applied retrospectively to January 2014 and that will be welcomed by many farmers and is something I also lobbied for.”
He concluded: “The penalties being incurred by farmers was concerning and I believe the 15% maximum threshold will be well received by the industry and is a sensible resolution. There will also be a 28 day period following an inspection where farmers will be able to replace missing single tags. Thankfully DARD has listened to the concerns of the farmer and lessened the burden in what are very difficult times for agriculture.”