Millions of pounds are being spent by regional governments across Europe to help farmers implement electronic tagging of sheep (EID).

And now an MEP has challenged the Scottish Government to match that commitment.

Two regions in Italy are planning to spend €21m on implementing EID while Extremadura in Spain is spending €2.6m, France is spending €20m and Greece has already spent €7m under its Rural Development Programme.

George Lyon, the new Lib Dem MEP for Scotland called on the Scottish Government to follow suit.

He said: “It is only right that Scottish farmers and crofters receive the same level of assistance to enable them to compete on a level playing field with other European sheep producers.”

NFU Scotland president Jim McLaren said a government-funded central database was a top priority.

“That will remove a real proportion of the recording and cost burden from individual farms.

Without that, the concessions the Scottish industry, politicians and government have won will be hugely

undermined,” he added.

“The information secured by George Lyon gives a much clearer picture of what is happening elsewhere and we need that taken forward in Scotland.

“The commission has reminded us in meetings with them again today of the eligibility of rural development funds for EID implementation on the ground. We need that explored in Scotland with urgency.”