Sheep industry concerned over non-electronic tag plans

New government plans to remove all access to non-electronic batch tags for lambs has been criticised by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and National Sheep Association (NSA).

The organisations claimed the new proposals could cost the industry an extra £1.8m per year and addressed Farming Minister David Heath to reconsider the consultation on sheep EID.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said: “Sheep farmers have had a tough year and are still recovering from the devastating marketing season last year. We are very concerned that the government’s favoured option to prohibit the use of the non-electronic tag completely will levy costs onto all producers, with little tangible benefit in terms of traceability, especially for those sending animals from the farm to slaughter.”

Both the NFU and NSA fear that livestock producers will reduce flexibility to choose the most suitable tag for their market.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker commented: “We understand the importance to the whole industry of having an efficient movement reporting system and an accurate database. We are asking the Minister to intervene to alleviate some of the further burden that may be imposed on producers and to also work to agree tolerances for incorrect reads which can lead to cross-compliance fines.”

Commenting on the criticism from both NFU and NSA, a Defra spokesperson told meatinfo.co.uk: “We have proposed the use of electronic tags for slaughter lambs in preparation for the new electronic movement reporting system to be introduced next year. Overall, we expect this system to deliver significant benefits to industry. However, no decisions on the use of electronic tags have been made and we are carefully considering the submissions from the NFU, the NSA and others.”