I'm having an ill-informed panic. I have no idea yet what the consequences will be. I don't know how the farm will be affected. But all around me there are rumours and facts posing as rumours washing around regarding the need for sheep to be electronically tagged by the end of 2009. According to Europa, "Electronic identifiers cost around 1-2€ per animal, hand-held readers are available from around 200€ and static readers from around 1000€. Farmers and operators will be responsible for the costs of meeting the requirement to electronically identify every sheep and goat. However, these costs should be offset by better disease control measures resulting from more effective identification".
For me that's simply an unaffordable prospect with a flock of 25- 30 ewes. I'd hope that there can be some kind of co-operative sharing among small farmers, but that's not easy to sort, even when surrounding farmers are eager to support each other. This was brought home by the attempts at minimising the waste of necessary but expensive Bluetongue vaccine; the stuff has to be used within 8 hours, and if you didn't need a whole bottle, or needed one or two doses more than a bottle, a mad ring-round ensued, with the vets dispensing the stuff unable to help with this logistical nightmare.
I need to find out more and come back to this when I feel better informed. Meantime, I'm having a gloom moment about the future of small farmers.