Defra decision on lamb tags disappoints NFU

A Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) decision to outlaw non-electronic batch tags for slaughter lambs has disappointed the National Farmers’ Union (NFU).

According to the organisation, changes to lamb tagging could cost producers £1.8m. Defra’s descision, meanwhile, followed the results of a government consultation in autumn, brought about to introduce the electronic reporting for sheep movements.

“Defra has outlined that, from 2015, lambs under 12 months old will have to be electronically tagged, which will add a significant cost to farm businesses,” said the NFU.

Livestock board chairman for the NFU Charles Sercombe explained that the announcement had come at a time when livestock businesses had seen an income drop of nearly 50% in the last year. ”We have been clear with Defra that the last thing livestock producers now need is to see a rise in tagging costs. he added.  

“Unfortunately the calls from the NFU and other farming organisations appear to have fallen on deaf ears and I have invited the Minister to visit my farm to discuss the issue in more depth. It is positive that Defra has listened to some of our concerns and delayed this implementation to 2015 to allow farmers to use some of the existing stocks of tags. However, there is no getting away from the fact that the vast majority of our sheep farmers will just view this as a further burden on the industry.

“Now Defra has made the decision to remove the non-electronic tag entirely, Ministers must grant a fair tolerance to prevent farmers from cross-compliance fines if the technology fails. This is already happening in other EU countries, and there is no reason why this should not be implemented in the UK too. Defra must also focus on ensuring a smooth implementation of the new sheep database next spring.”


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