Figures released by the Scottish government this week show Scottish farmers are getting to grips with electronic ID tags (EID).

Out of a total of 650 flocks inspected, only 64 farmers received any form of cross compliance penalty; this equates to 0.3% of all Scottish sheep producers.

And out of that group, only five breached the required EID rates – as well as breaching other tagging and recording requirements – and none were penalised for solely failing to comply with read rates.

NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said: “The inspection review shows that some flocks are handling the system well but highlights for us all the compliance traps that are likely to cause problems on farm.

“The main trip wires at inspection are, as they have been for several years, getting tagging and retagging right and the record keeping.

“At times, record keeping seems to overwhelm but the Scottish government’s yellow flock register provides all the information required at inspection. The challenge is to ensure that even the record of tagging and retagging is kept up to date.”

Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead added: “I know that bureaucracy surrounding sheep EID is an issue that the industry is very concerned about and we’ve worked hard to minimise the impact of the rules and help farmers avoid penalties.

“We gained valuable concessions form Brussels to allow an element of flexibility in the Scottish system and were confident that farmers would not face a torrent of penalties. With just 0.3% of Scottish sheep farmers receiving a penalty in 2011, I’m pleased that compliance with the EID rules has been so high.

“Going forward it is important that all those concerned with sheep EID continue to strive for a high standard. They can then once again avoid penalties while still achieving high standards of traceability.”

Steps sheep farmers can take to avoid penalties

  • Don’t double tag unnecessarily eg. on lambs destined for slaughter
  • Ensure you achieve read rates as close as possible to the Critical Control Point average of 95%
  • When buying in sheep, check read rates on ScotEID as soon as possible to ensure they reach the standard required