Animal Health and Welfare

UFU urge caution when purchasing UK tags

UFU Deputy President John McLenaghan, on his farm near Garvagh. Picture: Cliff Donaldson

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging members not to overbuy UK tags following DAERA’s recent announcement that the new XI tags will be available to purchase later this year, as the prefix code on Northern Ireland livestock tags is set to change from ‘UK’ to ‘XI’.

UFU deputy president John McLenaghan said, “DAERA has announced that they are finalising plans for the January 2025 implementation of the new XI tags – this has come at us out of the blue and we were not consulted on this change. According to DAERA, it is a legal requirement under EU animal health law and is necessary to allow NI unfettered access to the EU market.

“This access to the EU single market is essential. We do, however, seek more clarity on the process of how the prefix was selected. Livestock identification in Britain remains unchanged with the ‘UK’ prefix still being used, and it is critical that when using these new XI tags, that we still have access to premium markets in GB and our product can still be labelled as UK origin beef.

“We have been told the new XI tags will become available later this year and can be used immediately. There is no guarantee that UK livestock tags can be used from 1 January 2025, so farmers are being urged not to overbuy UK tags due to the uncertainty. The lack of assurance has the potential to cause issues for a lot of farmers as many are already spring calving and have purchased UK tags. The UFU has already raised concerns with DAERA about the lack of consultation and that sufficient lead time needs to be given so our members can use up all the UK tags that they have already bought.”