9 November 2001

Protests set for sheep ID

SHEEP farmers are set to oppose government plans to introduce individual identification for sheep. National Sheep Association chief executive John Thorley said officials had recently told him of proposals for every sheep to be individually identified twice.

Speaking at the Associations conference in Malvern on Wednesday (Nov 9) Mr Thorley said the proposals involved heavy paperwork at farm and market level. He said he made his opposition clear there and then because the new measures would be impractical for sheep farmers.

"We have approached the Meat and Livestock Commission to act a broker to develop a system that our industry could cope with and that DEFRA vets will accept. I am concerned at the fact that [the government] believes the 20-day standstill will be a part of the future."

Referring to a impromptu vote taken after a conference speech by Lord Whitty, Mr Thorley said the message had got through that the industry could not cope with the 20-day rule. Sheep farmers must find a means to take that rule out of the system, he added.

Mr Thorley also gave qualified approval to proposals contained in the Governments controversial Animal Health Bill to accelerate the national scrapie programme, but he warned that this must not be done at the risk of damaging rare breeds of sheep that are susceptible to scrapie. &#42