EID battle not over, say farm leaders

The fight over the implementation of electronic identification (EID) of sheep is far from over, according to leaders of the country’s sheep industry, who have taken their case to DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn.

Although EU Ministers confirmed in March that the compulsory policy would be implemented at the beginning of 2010, a delegation led by MEP Alyn Smith sought reassurances from the Minister that he continued to oppose the measure and would back their call to make aspects of the regulation voluntary .

The industry is now pinning its hopes on securing additional support from other member states and it has emerged that Poland is now backing the UK, Ireland, Hungary, Greece and other Eastern bloc countries in their call for a voluntary scheme.

Commenting after the meeting, NSA Scotland Field Officer George Milne said: “The Swedes will take over the Presidency of the EU shortly and we expect to be meeting with the Swedish Federation of Farmers soon to seek their support. “We also need to meet with Spanish farmers, who are becoming increasingly unhappy with what is on the table but lack the support of their politicians. “The fight for common sense goes on and it is good to see Scotland and the UK continuing to present a united front on this.”

The proposals are deeply unpopular with Scottish farmers.

A survey, carried out by NFUS during January and February 2009, revealed that 73% of Scottish producers said that they would reduce their flock if EID and individual recording were introduced.

Of the Scottish flock, keepers who indicated they would reduce their flock, one third said they might get rid of all their sheep.