Ministers to challenge EID stance in Brussels

Britain’s opposition to the European Commission’s “ludicrous” stance on 100% accuracy for sheep electronic identification (EID) will be taken to Brussels on 14 June.

DEFRA farm minister Jim Paice and the Scottish government’s rural affairs secretary, Richard Lochhead, will meet health commissioner John Dalli.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Lochhead said: “We will be discussing the commission’s apparent stance on compliance, where they are talking of hitting farmers hard for not achieving 100% accuracy, which is a ludicrous position, especially when the likes of commissioner Dalli has been praising Scotland and the system we have put in place.

“Penalising farmers who do not achieve 100% accuracy is unjust and unfair. For Scottish farmers, given the nature of the Scottish sheep flock, this is both impractical and unworkable. It is therefore vitally important that a better solution is found. If a solution is not found, Europe will deter farmers from producing, just when Europe is talking up the importance of food security.”

Mr Lochhead said Scotland had taken a unique position on EID and made significant investments to deliver systems that were suited to Scottish needs, limited the burden on farmers and dealt with technological limitations, while at the same time providing excellent traceability and adhering to the principles demanded by the commission’s EID regulation.

He added: “Scotland took the view that if we have to implement this challenging regulation then we might as well get it right and deliver benefits for the industry.”