Sheep industry to be saddled with added bureaucracy and cost but zero benefit

20th November 2013

National Sheep Association (NSA) is bitterly disappointed that Defra has taken little notice of the sheep industry’s view and forged ahead with its decision to implement full EID in England, even in lambs going directly to slaughter that pose no traceability or disease risk.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “Given the wording of the consultation and comments made by Owen Paterson and Defra officeholders during the consultation period, it appears that Defra had already made its mind up and was wasting our time and resources by asking us to present our views. It was clearly a ‘done deal’ and a decision that was made without any risk assessment of what the industry can afford and implement.

“NSA felt very strongly that even if Defra wanted to remove the option of the non-EID slaughter tag there was no justification for applying this right across the board and including lambs when their first and only move is straight to an abattoir, with no other collections, mixing or unloading in between. The disease risk is so low for these moves that EID tagging cannot be justified and is simply adding bureaucracy and costs with zero benefit. NSA’s consultation response made it very clear that if the sector was going to take any additional burden with these rule changes, Defra must respond by providing benefits.”

The most basic benefit requested by NSA was speeding up work on the recommendations made in the Macdonald report to reduce red tape, but over the slightly longer term NSA also prioritised the re-opening of discussions on cross compliance tolerance in Brussels, doing away with the six-day standstill (as done in Northern Ireland earlier this year) and introducing an equivalent level of mandatory recording and reporting further up the supply chain, so the investment made by farmers is offset by the receipt of useful carcase information.

Mr Stocker continues: “If Defra is determined to force through a decision that the industry clearly voiced its opposition to, we must see an urgent increase in activity around the task force recommendations and the fight for tolerance.

“NSA is also incredibly frustrated by the lack of connected activity between England and Wales and would like to see the Welsh Government make some much needed decisions on whether they are going to implement the same changes as England or operate with a different system. We are in a ridiculous situation where there will be significant changes in England in 2014 with the introduction of the electronic database, more upheaval in 2015 with the removal of visual tags, and presumably more changes again further down the line when Wales catches up. This is not only an issue for cross border trade but also makes life difficult in terms of farmers in neighbouring areas having to understand different sets of rules.”

Notes to editors:-

  • For more information please contact NSA Senior Communications Office Joanne Briggs on 07807 237982 or [email protected].
  • The National Sheep Association is an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. It is funded by its membership of sheep farmers and its activities involve it in every aspect of the sheep industry. More at and