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Commission willing to look at EID rule change

December 15, 2011 2:40 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Following a meeting with European Health Commissioner Dalli, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland George Lyon has welcomed the Commissioner's willingness to examine an NFU and NSA proposal to make sheep identification simpler and more flexible for Scottish farmers.

George Lyon MEPGeorge Lyon MEPCommissioner Dalli told Mr Lyon that he was willing to examine any proposals that might simplify the EID system while retaining the spirit of the legislation. He was happy for Mr Lyon to join with the NFU and NSA to present their ideas to his senior officials for consideration.

Mr Lyon also thanked the Commissioner for agreeing to the request by the UK Government to postpone the date when old ewes would be brought in to the EID system until 1st Jan 2015.

Commenting after the meeting, Mr Lyon said:

"It was a very constructive meeting and I am pleased that the Commissioner is willing to consider further simplification of the EID system.

"His decision to agree to the UK Government's proposal to delay the old ewes coming into the EID system until 2015 demonstrates he understands the practical difficulties that Scottish sheep farmers are facing.

"He has now agreed that we can present to his senior officials the NFU and NSA proposal to tweak the rules further and allow farmers a move to a more flexible single flock tag system that would allow home bred ewes to run through their breeding life on one tag with the double tag rule only kicking in when they left the holding.

"I intend to work closely with both the NFU and the NSA to take advantage of this opportunity to improve the sheep EID scheme that is causing so much concern among farmers and I hope a meeting can be arranged first thing in the New Year."

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller added:

"I am delighted that Commissioner Dalli has had an opportunity to view the briefing paper on Regulation 21/2004 that NFU Scotland prepared for last week's Scottish summit on the problems surrounding the electronic tagging of sheep. We need a two-pronged approach to the difficulties Scotland's sheep farmers are experiencing with the rules. On a home front, we will continue to work with Scottish Government on compliance issues, while on a European basis, we have consistently argued for a wholesale review of the regulation at the earliest opportunity.

"As part of that review, we would want to see Scottish farmers given the flexibility that would only require them to electronically tag their sheep when they leave the holding of birth. That would be a real breakthrough while having no negative impact on the traceability that regulation 21/2004 seeks to deliver. It would allow a single flock mark to be used on farm, help avoid costly retagging and ear damage and take the pressure off the bureaucracy that currently surrounds record keeping.

"This is a very helpful intervention by George Lyon MSP and if it opens the door to further discussions with Commission officials on sheep EID, then that is an opportunity that we will gladly take."