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    Sheep farmers in the UK face annual £23 million burden

    NewsMonday 02 June 2014
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    The National Sheep Association has contacted all of the 73 newly elected and re-elected MEPs, as well as the 39 outgoing representatives, asking for help. 
     
    The NSA has drawn the MEP’s attention to the £23 million annual bill that is burdening sheep farmers due to one single piece of EU legislation. 
     
    Earlier this year the organisation published a report on TSEs, which revealed the true cost of the BSE hangover to the sheep sector. This report was sent to the European Food Safety Authority, who, along with DG-SANCO, developed and informed the current TSE legislation. 
     
    This report has now been sent to MEPs in order to encourage them to lobby on the matter. 
     
    Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “NSA has thoroughly investigated the cost of TSE regulations, and specifically the requirement to split carcases of older lambs and sheep, and has found it costs the UK sheep sector more than £23 million per year. 
     
    “The regulations causing this phenomenal and unnecessary cost were a result of the BSE crisis back in the 1990s, but the differences between BSE in cattle and TSEs (scrapie) in sheep means the rules around sheep were never based in scientific fact. 
     
    “The biggest frustration for lamb producers has come in recent years when BSE cattle legislation has been relaxed but sheep farmers have been apparently forgotten and continue to carry a huge regulatory and financial burden.”
     
    The rules, which have been laid down by Europe, require carcases to be split and the spinal cord removed, if lambs are old enough to have their first pair of permanent teeth. This creates costs in auction markets due to the fact that the teeth have to be checked for. It also costs more in the slaughter line, due to splitting of the carcasses and in the processing facilities, due to the devaluing of the carcass as it is no longer whole. 
     
    According to the report these costs amount to over £23m each and every year, which ends up being passed back to the farmer in one way or another. 
     
    Speaking on the NSA’s official website, Mr Stocker continued: “£23m is an incredible amount of money to lose every year and does not even take into consideration the value of the export markets currently closed to the UK because of the negative connotations of us having TSE regulations in place – the presence of rules suggests the presence of disease when in fact the exact opposite is true. 
     
    “With more than one-third of UK-produced lamb already sold to Europe and around of the world, maintaining and growing this export market is vital in ensuring the sheep sector continues to contribution to the British economy in a very meaningful way.”
     
    When referring to the situation in Europe, the NSA made it clear that sheep farmers would not want to lose access to the single market, however, they do believe the burdensome regulations surrounding TSEs do need to be reassessed. 
     
    The NSA report has made five step-by-step recommendations to MEPs from relaxing the TSE legislation to the complete removal of the need for split carcases. For more information and to download the report, click here and head to the NSA official website. 

    Adam Rowden is a writer for Farming Ads view his Google+ page. 
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