UK farmers urge EID stance changes

A delegation of high-level farming representatives has urged the European Commission to abandon plans to penalise farmers who do not achieve 100% accuracy when reading sheep EID tags.

The NFU, NFU Cymru, NFU Scotland and the Ulster Farmers Union told the Commission it would be impossible for farmers to achieve 100% accuracy, 100% of the time when reading and recording individual sheep movements. The delegation also won support from COPA, the European farmers’ organisation, in its fight against the European Commission’s plans.

However, NFU chief livestock advisor John Mercer has warned that the Commission was yet to be convinced.

Mercer said: “We met with officials from the Commission and explained how impractical their suggestion was. We repeated the need for an accepted tolerance level, which was highlighted to Commissioner John Dalli first-hand on his visit to the UK last November.

“Without an accepted level of error on readings, farmers are faced with the prospect of receiving fines for inaccurate results, which will have been no fault of their own. Furthermore the Commission was insistent that farmers need to ensure that their flock register is also 100% accurate at all times – which, with the realities of extensive farming in the UK, is virtually impossible.

“So in a nutshell, the Commission is asking farmers to comply with a regulation that cannot be adhered to, however hard they try. This isn’t the end though – we’ll be working closely with Defra to draw up an implementation plan that will be more acceptable.”

The NFU has also held a series of meetings with colleagues across Europe and has managed to secure unanimous agreement from COPA that this issue affects not just British farmers but also those in other European countries.

The NFU has also been working closely with the government and senior Defra officials, with both president Peter Kendall and livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh holding meetings with Minister of Agriculture Jim Paice last week, where he recognised the NFU’s concerns and the enormity of the Commission’s stance. He stated his commitment to take this forward and fight for a solution to alleviate the problems.

>> Farming organisations unite against FSA plans