Caution urged over threat of EID boycott

Welsh farming union leaders are urging members to leave it to them to continue the fight against the introduction of compulsory electronic identification of sheep after 100 farmers threatened to boycott the regulation.

Having successfully dissuaded angry farmers from protesting when EU officials visited Wales last week, both NFU Cymru and Farmers Union of Wales officials were concerned by the threat of boycott from around 100 sheep farmers, who between them have about 120,000 sheep.

The move was agreed at a meeting held at Tyn Llwyfan farm, Llanfairfechan, which was also attended by representatives of both farming unions, livestock auctioneers and Gareth Jones, the local Plaid Cymru Welsh assembly member.

Huw Jones, Gwern Farm, Penygroes, told the crowd, which included many members of Aber and Llanfairfechan Graziers Association, that he had used EID for a year and believed that the system was “unworkable and a waste of time and money”.

He said about 200 of the 1200 sheep tagged had lost their tags.

Graziers Association chairman Gareth Wyn Jones, who hosted the meeting, said the 100 members would not go down the EID route with their 120,000 sheep until a more workable system was available.

Assembly member Gareth Jones said he was convinced that EID would be costly and time consuming for hill farmers struggling to make a living.

He emphasised that many assembly members shared his view and if they had the power EID tagging would not be introduced in Wales in 2010.

A Farmers Union of Wales spokesman later urged farmers not to do anything illegal to oppose the EU regulation.

“Farmers are understandably angry and frustrated by the attitude in Brussels, but the industry does have friends there and the fight is not over,” he claimed.

Ed Bailey, NFU Cymru vice-president, told a meeting of the union’s livestock board at Builth Wells that everything possible would be done to stop the nonsensical regulation.

“It was interesting that when questioned the Commission delegation was unable to identify any benefits that electronic tagging and individual movement recording would bring for disease control that are not already available through our present ID and batch recording system,” Mr Bailey said.

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