Government and EU approached over ‘ill-conceived’ EID plans

The fight to protect sheep producers from the forced introduction of electronic identification (EID) has progressed in London and Brussels.

Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams won a half-hour Westminster debate on 8 October which opened up the opportunity for MPs to question Jane Kennedy, the new DEFRA Minister for Farming and the Environment.

Mr Williams, who called for a voluntary approach, said the proposals were “ill-conceived”.

“What we are looking for now is for the Commission to allow individual countries to choose whether they implement the system.

“There are advantages to EID and there are countries where this might make sense, but in the UK the problems clearly outweigh the benefits.

“Given the increasing pressure on farm incomes, this would be an unwelcome financial burden at the worst possible time and there isn’t even a system that reliably works in our conditions.”

Mr Williams and fellow Welsh Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik have also asked all the UK’s MEPs to sign the European Parliament’s Written Declaration against the plan.

If over half of all MEPs sign the declaration it would be noted in the minutes as the Parliament’s position.

The moves have been been warmly welcomed in Wales. NSA Cymru chair Margaret Dalton said the Westminster debate was a very important step.

“The debate will bring pressure to bear on DEFRA so that it and the devolved countries can work together to fight this.”

Meanwhile Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans has asked the European Commission to send an urgent delegation to Wales to see the problems that compulsory electronic sheep tagging would cause.

NFU Cymru vice-president Edmund Bailey has told Jonathan Evans MEP that the enforcement of the regulation was simply unaffordable and impossible to cope with.

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