The Scottish Government has persuaded the European Commission to soften its stance on farmers who fail to comply 100% with electronic identification rules for sheep.

Although farmers in Scotland will still have to comply with regulations to avoid penalties, the EU has agreed to leeway at inspection. This will account for technology failures and the difficulties associated with gathering sheep on extensive hill farms.

Rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said the commission was content with the Scottish solution, which took account of the unique nature of the country’s diverse sheep industry.

“Although this regulation has not been the easiest to implement, we fought hard to promote our unique Scottish position on sheep electronic identification.

“I’m pleased that the European Commission has accepted our proposal for a more proportionate compliance system.”

“I do not for a minute pretend that the regime will be easy for many producers but I do hope that this news will at least lift the fear that unavoidable errors would lead to draconian penalties.”

The Scottish Government is now finalising guidance for sheep farmers, including how to reduce the risk of incurring cross compliance penalties.