With 2011 coming to an end, Farmers Weekly looks back at some of the events that shaped this year, like the agreement to delay tagging of older sheep for three years..
An announcement detailing a three-year delay on individual movement recording for older sheep came as welcome news in December.
The agreement for the delay to tagging represented a hard-won victory by UK industry leaders and DEFRA officials in Brussels. It meant eight million sheep born before 1 Jan 2010 would not now have to be electronically identified until the end of 2014. The potential saving to farming could be as much as £11.5m as many of these older animals will have been culled before they have to be tagged.
Up until the announcement, the focus on the EID issue had been on inspections and the threat of heavy penalties for failure to comply 100% with the rules. In November, NFU Scotland announced it had finally had enough of trying to find a diplomatic solution. Instead the union said it would seek legal opinion on whether it could challenge the rules and financial penalties imposed for non-compliance. The union already has contingency funds if it decides to proceed with a challenge.
After several years of hard lobbying, a deal to devolve the relevant elements of DEFRA’s Animal Health and Welfare budget to the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government was finally confirmed in March.
Ministers in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff agreed that the governments in Scotland and Wales, who already had policy responsibility for preventing and tackling animal diseases, were to get direct control of animal health budgets.
For 2011-12 Scotland and Wales will each have £21m and England £105m to spend on animal health and welfare.