Sheep tag review bid goes to MEPs

THE European Parliament has been asked to review how legislation of electronic identification (EID) of sheep has been implemented.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 12:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th July 2010, 12:32 pm

"This has been contentious since it was first introduced and it is right that the UK government asks Europe to monitor how it is being implemented," said Scottish Secretary of State and local MP Michael Moore, who supports a proposal made by the EU Agricultural committee suggesting there should be a three-year moratorium on any penalties.

He was critical of other parts of European regulation: "There does not seem to be a realisation just how onerous this new regulation has been in Scotland with its unique sheep industry."

The request was made by UK farming minister, Jim Paice, on a visit to Brussels and will specifically ask for the review to be undertaken as soon as possible because of the problems associated with the regulations.

Sign up to our daily Berwickshire News Today newsletter

The move by the UK politicians was welcomed by NFU Scotland. Its chief executive, James Withers, said that although there had been some concessions "fought for and won" there were still fundamental issues to address.

He said: "The move by the UK coalition government is an important step and hopefully it demonstrates an early commitment to achieving better regulation for agriculture."

The union wants to take out of the EID regulations all those sheep that never leave the farm on which they are born.

Withers added: "Sheep which are not moving and remain on the holding of birth are not able to transfer disease and it is a nonsense that they are caught up in the regulation."

Richard Lochhead, the Cabinet secretary for rural affairs said: "I welcome the Secretary of State's announcement that the UK government will continue to fight for a review of the EID legislation in Europe.

"This is something I have been pushing for and I will continue to use the evidence gathered from our 4 million EID research pilot to help explore any opportunity that can reduce the burdens placed on our industry.

"Regarding a moratorium on cross-compliance, we have long held the line that penalties should be proportionate and I am pleased to see that Michael Moore and Jim Paice also believe in this approach. This has to be the correct way forward and would follow on from my officials' talks in Brussels with colleagues from Wales and Northern Ireland to discuss this issue with the Commission."