Sheep's ear for EU Aug03
unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in the EU Commission have been
busy inventing their very own 'weapon of mass destruction' for British
agriculture, particularly sheep farmers. In order to control and manage
future outbreaks of animal diseases such as BSE and Foot and Mouth,
Commissioner Byrne (Environment & Public Health) wishes to ensure
"traceability" of all EU sheep.
wool financed our finest medieval churches across West Suffolk and
continues to make sweaters and suits that are worn by the fashionable and
the famous. Britain has 37 million of the 100 million sheep in the EU and
it is the largest "sheep" country in Europe with both a domestic
and export market for its lamb. Like millions of Brits, I look forward to
a Sunday lunch of roast British lamb with mint sauce, but for how much
longer will we be able to enjoy such a meal?
new EU Directive will require every one of the 37 million UK sheep to have
two plastic ear tags, carrying an individual 14-digit number, pinned on
the sheep's ear. Every time any sheep is moved, its individual number must
be checked and recorded. If the tag is lost for any one sheep, the farmer
must identify and check the missing number and apply for a replacement
is estimated that about 15 per cent of the sheep will lose their tags.
Therefore, for 600 sheep scattered over miles of moorland, a hill farmer
would have to round up his entire flock to determine which sheep have lost
their tags and then record all the 14-digit numbers on the sheep that
still have their tags. He will then know which of the 14-digit numbers are
missing by referring to his master list. Having established this, he would
have to apply for the missing numbers and pin the right tag on the right
sheep as before!
three minutes for each tagging or checking of a number and with labour
costs at around £12 an hour, the expense of this scheme to an average
sheep farmer in the UK will be £13,000 to £16,000 a year! There are
about 67 million sheep movements a year, therefore, writing down all these
14-digit numbers will take 3.35 million hours, costing around £40m! The
cost of replacing tags is estimated at £14m and the on-farm cost of
record-keeping is estimated to be at £8m. Considering that an average UK
sheep farmer earns around £12,000, how can such a scheme be implemented
and how can it be afforded by farmers who are already suffering from
substantial loss of income from the recent loss of farm animals?
EU Commission bureaucrats ever consult farmers directly, visit farms and
markets before sub-contracting consultants to draft such ridiculous and
EU legislation, which impacts on all of us, should be in the hands of elected Members of the European Parliament. The EU Member States must strip the EU Commission of its power to initiate legislation by restricting its function to that of a civil service. I am urging the Inter Governmental Conference (IGC) that will decide on the new treaty for the EU in October, to incorporate such a change.