NFU fights corner on tagging derogation

The NFU has announced that it will continue the fight for British sheep producers over double-tagging in the UK.

Meetings will be held at both Whitehall and Brussels in an attempt to extend the tagging derogation beyond the end of June.

For the past two years, UK farmers have enjoyed a derogation that means they need only tag sheep when they leave the farm for market. This year, the regime has been subject to rigorous inspections by officials from Brussels and there is a possibility that the derogation will be annulled.

If the derogation is annulled in June, farmers will have to double-tag and record the movement of every individual sheep, a move which is expected to cost at least £15m a year across the UK.

NFU livestock board chairman Thomas Binns said: "Until we've exhausted the constructive discussions with the EU Commission and had a formal proposal put on the table from Defra, we'll continue to explore the opportunities to extend the derogation. We will carry on pushing for common sense and a level playing field for British sheep producers."

Last week, Binns and NFU president Peter Kendall led an NFU team that briefed environment minister Ben Bradshaw on the importance of extending the derogation before Bradshaw met EU Commissioner Markos Kyprianou to discuss the subject. NFU director general Richard Macdonald also recently met with European Commission senior officials, responsible for animal health, to discuss the prospect of an extension.

The NFU is due to have a follow-up meeting with the Commission later this week.

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