Proposals included in the latest government consultation on sheep EID could cost the industry an extra £1.8m a year and do little to protect the industry in the event of a disease outbreak, the NFU and National Sheep Association (NSA) have warned.

Both organisations have written to farm minister David Heath to express their concerns about DEFRA’s plan to remove all access to the non-electronic batch tag for lambs.

The NFU and NSA said this could result in an increased tag cost for the vast majority of livestock producers and reduce their flexibility to choose the most appropriate tag for their market.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe said sheep farmers had faced a tough year and were still recovering from the devastating marketing season of 2012.

“We are very concerned that the government’s favoured option to prohibit the use of the non-electronic tag completely will levy costs on to all producers with little tangible benefit in terms of traceability, especially for those sending animals from the farm to slaughter.”

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker added: “We understand the importance to the whole industry of having an efficient movement reporting system and an accurate database.

“We are asking the minister to intervene to alleviate some of the further burden that may be imposed on producers and to also work to agree tolerances for incorrect reads that can lead to cross-compliance fines.”

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