By Ciaran Moran
The checks the Department of Agriculture has in place to prevent produce from stolen animals entering the food chain have yet to identify any such animals this year.
According to the Department, cattle entering slaughter plants and abattoirs are checked that they bear official ear tags, are properly registered and associated with the herd of the individual presenting the animal on this Department’s Animal Identification and Movement Database.
Animals that do not meet the criteria are rejected for slaughter, it says,
However, while the Department accepts that cattle are being stolen, it says it has no evidence that any of these stolen animals were presented for slaughter in 2015 at approved meat plants or abattoirs in the state.
Latest figures from the Department show that to date some 136 cattle have been stolen from Irish farms this year.
The Department of Agriculture has a range of checks in place to prevent missing/stolen animals from entering the food chain or being presented for live export.
Outlining the checks recently, the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney said in the event of an animal being stolen and a herd keeper reporting it to the Garda and the Department’s Regional Veterinary Office, a copy of the Garda report and relevant details of the case are recorded and forwarded to Animal Identification and Movement Division.
The Minister said the Division enters the record of ‘stolen’ animals and identification details on the Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) database in a dedicated missing/stolen category whereby the animal is designated with a missing/stolen notification referred to as E800.
He said in the event that a stolen animal is presented at an outlet such as an export point, livestock mart or slaughter plant, the E800 designation alerts the staff there not to allow further movement of the animal and an investigation takes place into the background of the missing/stolen notification.
The Minster said the animal is not permitted to be moved or enter the food chain until the investigation is completed, the animal’s bona fides are established and the E800 designation is deleted.
€10,000 reward for cattle rustling information
Earlier this year the IFA and An Garda Siochana launched a campaign for information on cattle rustling.
According to the Gardai over 300 cattle were reported stolen in 2013, while 159 were reported stolen in 2014.
The Gardai said that specialist criminal gangs are targeting farmers and stealing cattle and sheep, and the IFA is offering a €10,000 reward to people with cattle rustling information.