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MEP welcomes last minute concession on sheep tagging rules

December 19, 2011 10:51 AM
Liz Lynne MEP discussing fears over sheep tags with Shropshire farmer Richard Huffer at Ludlow livestock market

Liz discussing sheep tagging problems at Ludlow livestock market

Lib Dem Euro MP Liz Lynne has welcomed a three year delay for EU rules requiring farmers to individually record the movement of sheep from the 'historic flock'.

Lib Dem MEPs including Liz Lynne have lobbied the European Commission hard for a more flexible approach to sheep tagging, especially as machines designed to read new electronic tags continue to prove unreliable in practice.

The requirement to individually record movements of sheep born before December 31, 2009, known as the historic flock, was due to come into force on January 1 2012.

But a last minute proposal from the UK government to delay the requirement until the end of 2014 was narrowly accepted by the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) at a meeting in Brussels last week. The move will save UK farmers up to £11.5 million.

Liz Lynne said: "This is a welcome breathing space for sheep farmers who are experiencing huge problems with the implementation of electronic tags.

"Lib Dem MEPs are continuing to press the Commission to understand the effect of these issues and to be sympathetic to farmers who have shown nothing but good faith in trying to comply with the regulations.

"I hope the extra time the Commission has given will enable the technical issues to be sorted out once and for all.

"This new rule would have imposed substantial costs for virtually no benefit in increased traceability for sheep.

"Sheep farmers, especially in upland areas of the West Midlands region, are battling to stay afloat in difficult economic times. Regulations need to practical and should only be imposed where there is a clear benefit."

The Committee agreed that pre-2010 older sheep can now retain their conventional tags, and keepers will be able to continue to record and report their movements as a batch.

ENDS

Note: Since January 1, 2010, sheep born in Britain and kept beyond 12 months of age have to be electronically identified. Electronic tag numbers have had to be recorded on movement documents since January 1, 2011. The increased requirements for traceability of many kinds of livestock are designed to help control and prevent animal diseases.