Welsh farmers’ strong objections to EU plans to introduce electronic identification (EID) of sheep were today firmly underlined to Defra Farming and the Environment Minister Jane Kennedy by the Farmers’ Union of Wales deputy president Emyr Jones.
Mr Jones met the Minister in Brussels shortly before the EU’s Council of Agricultural Ministers discussed a call by the Hungarian government for sheep EID to be voluntary rather than compulsory from December 31, 2009.
"I made it clear to the Minister that she should not pull any punches in showing her support for Hungary's proposal," said Mr Jones, of Bala.
"There is now an almost unanimous acceptance across Europe that the technology has serious problems associated with it in terms of implementing the Regulation on farms and in markets and slaughterhouses, yet some Member States are suggesting that making it a legal requirement is a good way of encouraging companies to improve the technology."In my mind that is like forcing people to drive cars that have failed their MoTs, and is completely unacceptable when we are talking about animal health and welfare and disease control, not to mention the financial consequences of forcing people to use a costly technology that is not fit for purpose."
"The latest statistics show that sheep numbers in Wales fell by around 10% between 2007 and 2008, while total EU sheep production fell by around 2.5% during the same period."For many producers this Regulation is likely to be the final straw, resulting in further reductions in flock sizes, which in turn threatens the viability of the entire supply chain, especially in Wales," Mr Jones added.