Welsh rural affairs minister Carwyn Jones has promised a rethink on sheep tagging rules which could land farming in Wales with a bill for red tape of up to £500,000-a-year.

The rules, rushed through the assembly last week, mean farmers transporting sheep more than five miles will have to tag each animal and complete a movement document for each batch transported.

The rule would affect 3m sheep on 30% of Welsh sheep farms which have outlying land more than five miles from the main holding.

The new regulations caused uproar. Farmer and assembly member Mick Bates told the assembly:

“It appears crazy that you cannot find a way in this regulation to allow farmers to undertake good farming practice without having to tag their animals as they are moved.”

Mr Jones replied that the regulation was needed to ensure Wales retains derogation from much-disliked and claimed-impractical double tagging.

But Mr Jones told Farmers Weekly later that a “fine balance” exists between the desire of farmers to move their flocks with as much flexibility as possible, without jeopardising disease-control issues.

fwnews@rbi.co.uk