2018-02-16  facebooktwitterrss

NSA Highlights Proposed Sheep Dipping Regulation Change

A proposed five-fold increase in licence fees for farmers and contractors to dispose of waste water after dipping sheep is a potential threat to the high animal welfare standards that producers in the UK pride themselves on, says the National Sheep Association.

Treating with organophosphate dips is an essential practice to kill certain sheep parasites, particularly scab mites. As appropriate to their potential impact on human health and the environment, farmers must hold a Certificate of Competence to use the dips and an Environment Agency Disposal Licence to handle the waste water afterwards.

Sheep Dipping

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is therefore opposing a disproportionately large increase in the cost of applications and renewals processed by the Environment Agency after April 2018, taking a new licence to more than £2,000.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says:
Sheep scab is a debilitating and painful disease in sheep that requires swift and effective treatment. The lifecycle of the scab mite makes diagnosis and control difficult and disease incidence is unfortunately increasing across the UK. NSA and industry partners are highlighting best practice messages to farmers – but the success of this depends on practical and affordable treatment options. Making sheep dipping prohibitively expensive would massively affect the sheep sector, particularly now when we have serious problems and risks being experienced with any alternative treatments for sheep scab”.

The only alternative treatment – macrocyclic lactone injections that kill the external scab mite as well as internal sheep worms – is difficult to administer at a time that is appropriate in the lifecycle of both types of parasite. Treating at the wrong time causes resistance to the injection, rendering it useless over time. Resistance of internal parasites has risen in line with increased use of injectables to treat sheep scab, and multiple cases of resistance in scab mites has recently been recorded for the first time.

Mr Stocker continues:
“Resistance to the one treatment option and economic barriers to the other would allow sheep scab to increase, causing welfare problems in sheep and affecting the ability of farmers to run viable businesses. UK sheep farmers pride themselves on high animal welfare standards, and such standards are being lauded by ministers involved in post-Brexit trade negotiations.

“NSA is a strong advocate of integrating farming and environmental policies. Sheep dip disposal should rightly be governed by the Environment Agency, but unilateral pricing decisions cannot be made without considering the consequences on animal health and welfare. The proposed fees will ultimately result in welfare problems and a heightened risk of further disease spread – contradicting clear political objectives in these areas.”

NSA shared its views with the Environment Agency during the official consultation and will continue to highlight the importance of rethinking the proposed new pricing structure.


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