ASSEMBLY Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones will be given a demonstration of the controversial sheep and goats’ electronic identification (EID) technology on Friday, February 13 on a farm at Saron, Llanwnda, near Caernarfon.
Farmers’ Union of Wales member Huw Jones' farm, Pengwern, is one of 14 farms taking part in a joint Hybu Cig Cymru-Welsh Assembly Government pilot trial into the feasibility of introducing EID to the Welsh sheep industry.
"I have been trialing the EID technology for the past 12 months and I am convinced the system is totally unworkable after 20 per cent of my flock lost their tags," said Huw Jones.
"I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the technology to work for me on my farm and I found that although the electronic hand-held reader reads the tags relatively well, using this type of equipment is a lengthy process and is unpractical to say the least.
"The electronic race-reader is much better in theory but in practice I found it very unreliable. I recently brought 150 ewes down from the mountain and put them through the race and the reader only recorded 108 ewes.
"Such unreliability is just not good enough. I have no doubt that the technology is not sufficiently developed to be practical for the average Welsh flock."
Alun Ffred Jones, Arfon’s Plaid Cymru AM, said: "I’m aware of the concerns regarding the EID tagging scheme and that many see it as unnecessary and expensive bureaucracy. I look forward to discussing the matter and listening to suggestions from people within the industry who will have to deal with the repercussions of the scheme’s implementation."
The visit, arranged by FUW’s Caernarfon county executive officer Gwynedd Watkin, will give the Minister the opportunity to see the technology at work at first hand.
Mr Watkin said: "The policy of EID for sheep has not been thought through properly and could ruin the financial viability of the industry.
"The technology used for EID is temperamental to say the least, even the slightest hitch with the technology could bring a livestock market or abattoir to a standstill, with major financial consequences for all concerned.
"I have invited John Lloyd Williams of Bryncir Agricultural Auction Centre and Gren Jones of Conwy Valley Meats to be present at the meeting so that the Minister can hear the concerns from all aspects of the industry."