8th December 2011
I am delighted that the European Commission has started to see sense regarding the electronic tagging of sheep. The Commission's Standing Committee on animal health has just approved a UK proposal
to delay the requirement for the individual movement recording of the 'historic flock' for three years. This means that farmers will not have to report the individual movements of sheep born before the 31st December 2009. This will allow farmers to delay the electronic tagging of the older sheep and save around £11m in the process.
This is good news for the sheep sector, but more needs to be done. The EU's obsession with 100% tagging compliance is impractical for many South West farmers. I firmly believe that the remaining tagging proposals are too rigid, and are being pushed through in too tight a timeframe, taking little account of the kind of conditions that farmers work in. Tagging may work for small pens and fields, where the sheep are tightly controlled, but out on the moors in the rain and mud, it is impractical to say the least.
At the present time if the farmer can't account for every sheep, or if a tag is lost, then he would be financially penalised. They aren't baby sitters, they're farmers and the system needs to reflect that.
This is why I am leading a campaign to gather support amongst MEPs to ensure that the sheep regulations are more tolerant of the conditions, animal behaviour and the state of existing technology. Our farmers need our support and not more regulation.