UK farming leaders have been left heartened after German and Dutch industry representatives vowed to join the UK to fight the introduction of compulsory electronic identification of sheep.

Following an EID Summit in Brussels yesterday (10 November), officials from Holland and Germany agreed to write an open letter with the UK to MEPs, European Union commissioners and agriculture ministers, outlining the case against EID.

The letter, which farming leaders hope will be backed by the whole of the EU, will also argue for a voluntary system of identification.

Derek Morgan, FUW hill farming chairman, said it was the first time the three countries had sat down together.

“I am happy that these other countries are now joining us to put pressure on the Commission,” he said.

“I don’t want to get people’s hopes up because all the member states have agreed to this proposal from the Commission.

“But I was quite heartened to see that at last someone is agreeing with us and hopefully something will be done.”

Mr Morgan said the three countries planned to “bombard everyone” with the letter.

“We have to tell the Commission that it won’t work. I think we have to feel optimistic that some of these countries are beginning to realise that the EID scheme is too expensive and unworkable.

“The Commission could save face by making it voluntary.”

Mr Morgan added that Dutch farmer Erich Rhose had warned that compulsory EID would put The Netherlands’ sheep industry at risk.

Mr Morgan used EID on some sheep in a pilot scheme at his farm in Powys and said it proved to be uneconomic on large commercial flocks.