Brussels set to target farm red tape

European agriculture ministers are discussing ways of reducing the amount of red tape faced by farmers.

Ministers from across Europe are exchanging views during a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday (29 June).

Streamlining rules, slashing administration and reducing farm inspections are all seen as key ways of easing pressure on the EU budget.

They also aim to create jobs and encourage productivity.

This latest discussion follows a presentation by agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos on ways of simplifying EU farm legislation.

Last week, Mr Ciolos visited the Royal Highland Show where he met farmers struggling to abide by EU rules requiring sheep to be electronically tagged.

Scottish livestock leaders have called on Brussels to suspend penalties against farmers who breach the sheep electronic identification (EID) rules.

Farm minister Jim Paice will use the European council of agriculture meeting to highlight continuing concerns over sheep EID.

A DEFRA spokesman said: “The minister has been very clear about the problems with sheep EID and in particular the burden it’s placing on farmers.”

NFU Scotland chief executive James Withers said sheep EID regulations remained a long-running issue.

“There are still fundamental issues we want addressed,” he said.

“The move by the new UK coalition government is an important step and hopefully demonstrates an early commitment to achieving better regulation for agriculture.”

The really big win would be to exempt animals which remained on their holding from electronic tagging requirements, said Mr Withers.

“Sheep which are not moving, and remain on their holding of birth, are not able to transfer disease and so it is a nonsense that they are caught up in this regulation.

“Sorting out that issue is still a key step to move forward.”

An EU spokesman said many simplification measures should be effective for autumn 2010 and would play a role in proposals to reform the CAP post-2013.