5 January 2001
MAFF denies sheep-tag shortage

By FWi staff

FARMERS should have no problems getting hold of plastic ear tags required by law for their sheep, insists the Ministry of Agriculture.

Some producers claim they are losing money as they cannot take lambs to market due to a shortage of the tags, which are intended to ensure traceability.

Since the beginning of the year, these have been compulsory for all sheep except those which left the holding of their birth before the end of 2000.

But a MAFF spokesman said the ministry had not come across any difficulties in obtaining tags.

He said: “If any farmers are experiencing local problems, then Id suggest they try another supplier, some of which dispatch orders within 24 hours.”

The Farmers Union of Wales claims numerous producers who ordered tags in mid-November have still not received them.

FUW president Bob Parry has written to the Welsh Assemblys Rural Affairs Minister Carwyn Jones expressing his concern at the situation.

“Farmers, through no fault of their own, will now suffer financial penalty unless there is greater flexibility in the interpretation of this order,” wrote Mr Parry.

And John Wharton of Borderway Mart, Carlisle, Cumbria, said he was expecting 1500 fewer lambs on Friday (05 January) because some vendors could not get tags.

He told FARMERS WEEKLY that he had spent hours on the telephone chasing up tag manufacturers.

But tag supplier Shearwell, of Exmoor, Somerset, said there should not be a problem getting delivery of sheep tags at short notice.

Managing director Richard Webber said he could ensure urgent orders were dispatched within 24 hours.

However, he said that some farmers, lamb buyers and abattoirs had said tagging lambs for immediate slaughter was a waste of time and money.

The MAFF spokesman said he could not confirm whether producers had been dragging their heels over getting tags.

For advice on tagging contact the MAFF helpline on 0645 335577.