Farmer Focus: Bill and Jonathan Metcalf on SPS forms

Totally against my usual writings, I have got to praise Northallerton RPA after handing in our SPS forms.

I walked in the door, was immediately directed to an available member of staff in an interview room, the form was briefly checked and the receipt handed over, all in less than five minutes. It has to be time for serious system changes, as this sort of efficiency cannot be allowed to continue.

Lambing has come and gone, this year somehow rather a blur among everything else. The finish came as usual when the remaining few were sent on to the moor, as there is more chance of them appearing with a lamb at shearing than keeping them with too much grass and lambs being too big.

Returning to my spirit of entente cordiale with our masters; as the theory of cost sharing and responsibility is the “in” idea and we are to spend millions on electronic identification of sheep and goats across Europe, surely all our governments should be able to come up with a system, at their cost, to trace these movements for it to have any value, even in their minds.

Obviously, once this database has been set up to record these “millions” of movements throughout Europe, it would be a good time to then start electronic tagging, as all other records would become obsolete.

I am sure all countries could agree on one system quickly in the obvious interests of animal health and welfare, while clearly obeying data protection, free-market rules and maintaining the civil rights of our sheep.

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