By Archie Hamilton, head of sheep sales at Lawrie and Symington and a member of IAAS We’ve had an encouraging first half of the year here at Lawrie and Symington with throughput significantly better compared to the same period last year. Sheep numbers in particular are well ahead with cattle numbers remaining strong.

Despite the positive start, prices are not as high as last year but we’re seeing better numbers coming through the ring taking the edge off the scarcity that was occasionally a feature of last year.

Farmers are enjoying a reprieve from high fodder costs with feed bills coming down given the much better spring season and nature has been kinder, reversing the weather excesses we experienced in 2018.

The issue of double tagging in sheep has been on the agenda now for some time causing concern that this additional red tape was going to be implemented in Scotland.

However, new proposals from the EU now include a revised exemption meaning all lambs going to slaughter before 12 months don’t need double tagged, even if they move through a market during that time.

The threat of double tagging has been hanging over us and definitely wasn’t in the best interests of Scotland’s sheep farmers. The sheep trade is of huge importance here at Lanark and to the wider Scottish agricultural economy so the double tagging proposals would have added significant cost and administrative burdens to our market and our clients. Furthermore, it would mean adding an unnecessary source of stress and infection to livestock being tagged for a second time.

I know IAAS has responded nationally, on behalf of all livestock auctioneers, and we now have to hope that common sense will prevail and the exemption will be confirmed after the consultation.

This is not the time for tightening of regulatory burden on the industry, at a time for wider uncertainty.