Another session at a Farmers Auction Mart, this time in Leyburn.
In spite of it being store cattle day, the topic farmers most wanted to speak to me about was the electronic identification (EID) of sheep (tagging). EID and individual recording is an EU requirement which is mandatory for sheep. EID is used to identify livestock and is based on electronic devices and readers (either ear tags or boluses).
The expectation from EU inspectors was that farmers’ records should be 100% accurate. This seems very unfair to farmers when the electronic tags themselves do not work 100% of the time. Penalties for non-perfect compliance are highly disproportionate and inspectors treat farmers like common criminals when they are doing their level best and technology is simply not in their control.
Furthermore, the cost of new tags and the burden of record keeping adds a great deal of strain to small farms where farmers are already working around the clock to make ends meet.
The NFU has argued that the EU has been unable to identify any benefits electronic tagging and individual movement records bring regarding disease control that are not available through previous ID and batch recording systems, combined with domestic movement standstills.