The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) must “rethink” the transition period for the new XI livestock tags, as the current period is not substantial enough.

This is according to the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), which said that the launch date for the new tags being June 24, 2024, and the final switchover date occurring in January 2025, does not give farmers enough time to use existing stocks of UK tags.

DAERA recently announced that, from June 24, new XI prefix livestock tags will be available to purchase from tag suppliers, with UK tags becoming unavailable for purchase from that date.

DAERA said it is currently finalising plans for the final switchover and the date, provisionally expected to be January 27, 2025, will be confirmed to livestock keepers in due course.

UFU deputy president, Glenn Cuddy, said the transition period will not benefit farmers who have already bought UK tags and spring calf from January to May.

“They cannot simply change calving dates to suit DAERA’s tag transition,” he said.

‘Sufficient time’

“From the outset, the UFU urged DAERA to manage this change with caution, stressing that our farmers need sufficient time that would work alongside the farming calendar causing minimal disruption, and that clear communication to notify farmers would be essential,” Cuddy said.

“At this late stage, DAERA are only now advising farmers not to order large quantities of UK tags that cannot be used from January 2025.

“DAERA must allow a longer period to enable farmers to use up existing tags otherwise it will be a significant financial loss for their farm businesses.”

Cuddy said there has been an “ongoing distinct lack of engagement” with farmers on this matter, and that DAERA must rethink its January 2025 deadline urgently.