Paice and Lochhead lobby EU over EIDs

UK Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has met with the EU commissioner to voice his concerns about the impractical electronic identification (EID) of sheep movements in the UK, Defra announced today.

The minister and Scotland’s Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead
met commissioner John Dalli in Brussels to explain the distinctive nature of the sheep industry in the UK and the implication for EID accuracy.

The farming industry has been up in arms against the new system, saying it is virtually impossible for UK sheep farmers to achieve 100% accuracy in the reading and recording of sheep movements. They oppose the penalties that farmers incur to their single payments under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) if they record inaccurate results, saying this is extremely unfair.

Jim Paice said: “Our sheep farmers have worked extremely hard to implement the electronic tagging of sheep. 

“I have stressed our determination to deliver a system which provides traceability, but because of the frequency and volume of sheep movements in the UK, we need flexibility that recognises that delivering 100% read rates is not always achievable.

“Today we’ve been able to discuss in greater detail how we can ensure that farmers are not unnecessarily penalised for problems beyond their control.”

Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland has taken a unique position on EID and made significant investments to deliver systems that are suited to Scottish needs. Our approach helps limit the burden on farmers while still adhering to the principles demanded by the EC’s EID Regulation. That needs to be recognised by the Commission.

“I made the point strongly today that penalising farmers who do not achieve 100% accuracy is unjust and unfair. I stressed that, for Scottish farmers, given the nature of the Scottish sheep flock, this is both impractical and unworkable.

“Today’s discussion was constructive and we will continue to engage and press on this issue until a workable solution for Scotland is found.”

The ministers and commissioner agreed that the most important objective was robust traceability.  A number of ideas were discussed and the UK will put a further proposal to the Commission that reflects the circumstances of different parts of the UK.

>UK farmers urge EID stance change