Brussels determined to impose EID for sheep

Both Welsh farming unions claim their members will be shellshocked by the EU Commission’s determination to impose electronic identification of sheep (EID) from 2010.

They also intend to step up political lobbying following a meeting in London between the commission’s food safety directorate and more than 50 industry stakeholders.

Members of NFU Cymru’s council, meeting at Builth Wells this week, described the plan to compel those member states with more than 600,000 sheep to use EID as “bureaucracy gone mad”.

William Jenkins, who admitted he had failed to make the system work efficiently on his Monmouthshire farm, said sheep farmers should not sit back and accept the plan.

Instead they must lobby politicians to bring some reality into the debate.

Ed Rees, chairman of NFU Cymru’s livestock board, explained that farmers would be forced to use tags or boluses, but would not be required of have on-farm readers. And there would be no central register of identification numbers.

“The imposition has little to offer farmers in terms of greater efficiency and we should question its value in helping to control disease,” Mr Rees insisted. “The system we currently have in place is more than capable of tracing sheep back to their original holding.”

But Brussels was determined to impose another raft of unnecessary regulation that was not needed and for which farmers could ill afford to pay.

The Farmers Union of Wales will also seek concessions to ease the impact on the industry.

“The recent problems at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 could fade into insignificance when compared with the consequences of this legislation for the farming industry,” said Nick Fenwick, the union’s policy director.

The commission’s endless appetite for bureaucracy was making farming in Europe less viable, while giving a marketing advantage to importers of food produced to lower standards, he said.