The UK Government’s proposed amendment to the EU regulations on sheep identification (EID) has been  thrown out by the Council of Agricultural Ministers at their meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday (23 June).

The proposed changes, which would have delayed individual tagging of sheep until they left the holding of their birth, won support from Ireland, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia but were not accepted by lead Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

Despite the setback NFU Scotland  president Jim McLaren said the union remained committed to fighting the proposals which he said could see hundreds of farmers walk away from the industry if they were implemented in the current form.

Mr McLaren also hinted that farmers may take to the streets in protest as the date of implementation grows closer.

“The sense of frustration farmers have with these proposals is growing and co-ordinated protest at a European level may yet be required,” he said.

“These regulations,  if unchecked, will bring a move to electronic tagging and the need to record the movement of every individual sheep.

“That is an unacceptable level of cost and bureaucracy for no real benefit and we owe it to our members to fight these proposals tooth and nail.”

Mr McLaren has requested a meeting with Commissioner Vassiliou at which he intends to spell out that the proposals will deliver no additional benefit in terms of animal disease traceability.

“We will want to see her stand by her offer of flexibility in implementing the regulation made at the previous council meeting,” he added. “The fight for change goes on. I remain convinced that scope for considerable compromise still exists.”