The National Sheep Association (NSA) has responded to the Defra decision on EID, saying it is disappointed that Defra has 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.
Chief executive Phil Stocker said “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 adding bureaucracy and costs with zero benefit.”
These benefits included speeding up work on the recommendations made in the Macdonald report to reduce red tape, but over the slightly longer term. NSA also prioritised:
Reopening of Brussels talks on cross-compliance tolerance.
Doing away with the six-day standstill (as done in Northern Ireland earlier this year).
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 added: “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.
“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.”