ENVIRONMENT Secretary Hilary Benn was yesterday handed a petition from Northern sheep farmers protesting against the latest tangle of EU red-tape which is causing major distress and hours of extra work, particularly for hill farmers in areas like the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
The EU is demanding that all sheep going to market must be electronically tagged so that their journeys from farm to farm or slaughter house can be traced from electronic chips read by computer.
The system, known as EID, was dreamed up during the mad cow disease panic but has since been proved un-necessary because sheep do not pass on BSE from generation to generation like cows.
Everywhere we took the petition we found tremendous support from both the farming community and the general public
Douglas Chalmers - CLA North
However, the EU juggernaut rolls on and the system is to be introduced, meaning hours of extra book-keeping for hard-pressed farmers and – for those without computer skills – the need to hire expensive experts to do the work.
Yesterday, CLA President Henry Aubrey-Fletcher and CLA North East Chairman Annabelle Morshead presented Mr. Benn with a petition of more than 2,000 signatures against the implementation of EID.
Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North said: “This presentation is the culmination of several months’ efforts. Everywhere we took the petition we found tremendous support from both the farming community and the general public. This proposed legislation is simply daft. It adds nothing to an already efficient traceability system, and neither the farmer nor the consumer gains any benefit. It would merely add a cost that would have to be borne by the producer, and this cost is significant enough to drive many of them out of business.
The Secretary of State promised to do all he could to minimise the impact of the legislation.