EU sheep proposals - a practical nightmare

NFU Scotland has condemned as unworkable the proposals, published from the European Commission that would require the individual identification numbers of all sheep being moved to be recorded on movement documentation. The proposal is part of a wider package of measures put forward by the Commission for a new EU-wide sheep identification and traceability system to be implemented in July 2003.

NFUS is urging the EU to adopt the current Scottish sheep traceability system as a blueprint for the rest of the EU. Commenting on the proposals, NFUS livestock committee chairman, David Mitchell said: "The requirement to record the individual identification numbers of sheep in movement documents and holding registers will be a practical nightmare.

"It will be an enormous problem for farmers feeding and finishing sheep from several different holdings of birth, with a mixture of ID numbers, all of which will have to be individually checked and recorded when the sheep are brought onto the holding and before being moved off. "We have been at lengths to outline our concerns to the Commission, including hosting a visit for officials so they could see themselves the potential difficulties - despite this, the Commission appears to have ignored all the obvious problems. Scotland has led the way in sheep traceability, through the use of flock identification tags, with all movements recorded on a central database. This provides full disease traceability without the logistical difficulties of requiring separate ID numbers to be recorded for every single sheep.
"NFUS will continue its considerable effort to convince EU officials of the practical impossibility of their current proposals and we will be reiterating our support for the current Scottish system."