10 November 1995

NFUvictory on sheep ID

FARMING Unions are claiming victory this week after securing a change to proposed new rules on sheep identification and recording.

The NFU and Scottish NFU met MAFF officials this week to discuss the ministrys draft proposals to comply with the EU sheep identification order.

In the original plans MAFF said that to qualify for sheep annual premium breeding flock records would have to be updated every fortnight throughout the year. Scottish NFU livestock director Richard Henton said such a scheme would have been totally impractical.

"It would have meant hill farmers would have to gather their flocks every fortnight, which would be quite stupid, especially during the lambing period," he said.

The proposals were drafted by MAFF in October, and the unions immediately pointed out the potential problems. Mr Henton said that following the meeting this week he was as sure as he could be that MAFF officials had realised that the plans were unworkable.

"We expect a final draft later this week. Until we see the final wording we cant be absolutely certain, but we are confident that the fortnightly recording will be removed," he said.

The new sheep rules should be in place for Jan 1, 1996.

Shelley Wright

Alongside them will be new measures on sheep identification. Every flock will be allocated a flock code, and any animals being exported will have to be tagged with the code.

Animals moving within Britain will have to be accompanied by a movement document stating their origin and destination, and they will have to be identified with a temporary flock mark.

"All these changes are part and parcel of the moves to tighten identification and recording procedures to prevent possible fraud," Mr Henton said.