A letter to the media regarding new regulations on sheep tagging.
With new regulations on sheep tagging having come into force recently, what now matters is how their impact on farmers in Wales can be minimised.
The main driver behind the introduction of Electronic Identification Devices (EID) was the outbreak of Foot and Mouth in 2001. Whilst the intention of the EID scheme is to improve animal traceability and help reduce the spread of disease, I strongly share the widely expressed concerns about the practical implementation of the plans. By making the scheme compulsory, an unfair burden has been placed on Welsh farmers, especially those with small and medium sized flocks.
However, important concessions have been secured through detailed negotiations which will make it easier for Welsh farmers to implement including allowing organisations such as markets and abattoirs to read the individual identities and pass the information back to keepers who have bred them.
Detailed guidance is to be issued by the Welsh Assembly Government and a number of roadshows have been organised so that farmers can readily access advice on how to keep costs and disruption to an absolute minimum. I will also be working with farmers the length and breadth of the country to assess how EIDs will work in practice in Wales.
Having signed a joint letter last year with other MEPs opposing compulsory EID and met on a number of occasions with farming unions on this issue, I will be keeping a vigilant eye on developments in the coming months. I would welcome the opportunity to make appropriate representations to the European Commission on behalf of farmers in Wales who face any difficulties as a result of the scheme.
Derek Vaughan MEP