Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Anthony Lawlor, is supporting Donegal North East TD Joe McHugh’s call on both the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Justice to develop a strategy to combat the rising problem of sheep theft.
“Sheep theft is a major problem for farmers this year and at a time of grave economic difficulty the theft of sheep places severe financial pressure on affected farm families. Ewes with lambs at foot are now worth up to €300 and this strong price during a national recession may be stimulating the criminal activity. In May 2007, lamb was valued at €3.70 per kg d/w. Today it is valued at €5.52 d/w – an increase of 67% increase.
“Thieves are clearly evading the sheep traceability barriers by cutting existing tags from the animals ears and inserting new registrations. The Department of Agriculture should develop a strategy to combat this practice and it should collaborate with the Department of Justice to ensure that thieves face more severe criminal sanctions.
“The Department of Agriculture should also encourage farmers to carefully brand all sheep in clearly identifiable ways, such as the use of two colours and distinctly shaped flock brands which makes it more difficult for thieves to pass off stolen sheep as their own. In certain areas in the UK the wool on the sheep is now being dyed to prevent theft. If necessary this could be adopted here in areas where there is a high likelihood of theft.
“Farming communities can combat the problem by exercising greater vigilance over the local movement of stock. Farmers should take note to record the registrations of strange animal transportation vehicles in their area. Ultimately, however, the relevant government department and the State’s law enforcement agencies have responsibility for this problem and the matter must be addressed urgently.”