‘Zero tolerance’ EID stance shocks industry

UK SHEEP farmers could face large Single Payment deductions through no fault of their own, after Brussels officials insisted on a ‘zero tolerance’ tag reading policy, UK farming organisations have warned.

The NFU and the National Sheep Association (NSA) issued furious responses, after European Commission officials rejected UK pleas to allow some tolerance in the system.

Defra and the devolved administrations in the UK have recognised industry concerns over the difficulty of achieving 100 per cent accuracy when reading and recording individual sheep movements.

Following soundings with the livestock industry, they recently submitted a proposal to the European Commission highlighting the need for tolerance. It proposed system that recognised the practical issues of sheep EID and ensured  farmers would not fall foul of Single Payment penalties as a result of ‘inevitable and unavoidable incomplete readings under the current system’.

However Commission officials rejected the planned changes after they were presented during a meeting with UK government officials last week. They reiterated their intention to demand 100 per cent accuracy in flock registers, with any discrepancies potentially leading to Single Payment reductions.

NSA chairman Jonathan Barber said the Commission’s response had ‘come as a nasty surprise’, to Defra officials as well as the industry.

He said all the indications, based on the visits to the UK from EU officials and the EU Commissioner Dali himself, were that the message about the need for tolerance had got through.

However, it was now clear that Brussels officials who deal with  Single Payment penalties were not convinced of the need for tolerance. Mr Barber said Defra had indicated they would ‘not give up the fight on this one and that there is further to go in this process’.

“NSA will hold them to this and would urge them to fight tooth and nail on this one as without tolerance in the EID regulations the worst recording nightmares of sheep farmers potentially become a reality,” Mr Barber said.

NSA chief executive Peter Morris added that the industry would be looking for the support of politicians as well, ‘in terms of actions and not just words’. He urged all concerned industry organisations ‘to come together in one united front to oppose and lobby for this decision to be overturned’.

NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said the Commission’s view was ‘truly incomprehensible’.

“Without an accepted level of error on readings farmers are faced with the prospect of receiving fines for inaccurate results which will have been no fault of their own. They are also potentially faced with a huge financial burden due to the need to invest in equipment,” he said.

He said there were many reasons why delivering 100 per cent accuracy was ‘impossible’, on farm, in markets and at abattoirs, because of the practicalities of taking readings. 

He adder that the success of the UK derogation which allows third parties to carry out electronic reads on behalf of the producer ‘relied heavily on the acceptance of tolerance’

“Without it farmers will now have to achieve 100 per cent accuracy every single time which, from experience, I know is impossible,” Mr Macintish said.

He said the NFU would continue working with Defra to try and persuade Commission officials to ensure that the severity and implications of this position are understood.”

Readers' comments (10)



    You couldn't make it up!!!

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  • Hitler's Enabling Act .

    And you thought it was all over.


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  • I thought the govt wanted us to produce more food. Funny That

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  • single farm payments are only there for political control.If we could afford to farm without them we would be left in peace.

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  • So the eu comission rejected a British proposal , is anybody really surprised by this? About time we had a referendum about being in eu full stop!!

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  • Its time those who think they rule us wherever that may be understand that they are our servants and not our masters.
    The only way to stop this is for everyone not to comply from us farmers to auction marts and abbattoirs.
    this measure will not stop any disease nor will it be able to be policed nor will it provide complete traceability as we all know animals can stray into woods/forests and never be found or they can die in dense bracken or other foliage out on the hill.
    It is time to take a stand and say enough is enough we will not do any more and they can see the whole industry in court.
    can they they not see that it will affect food supply and why the hell are we bending over backwards when no other continnent is doing this. Time we were out of europe, I have always voted tory but if they cannot stand up for our own security with two people with links to this industry then I will be joining ukip.

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  • Sheep farmers have been burying their heads in the sand for far too long and now they are bleating. You knew it was coming and there are adequate and cost effective solutions available, if only you bothered to look for them. As an example a simple Google search has just produced: www.stocktrace.co.uk and I'm sure there are others.

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  • Amanda how is tebling the cost of my eartagging bill cost effective?? The basic reading equipment which we were assured was going to be no mre than a hundred pounds for the most basic one is four or five times this amount. Yes we knew it was coming but when British producers objected to it we were told tough its coming anyway by a bunch of muppets who don't have to work with this. Even the trials failed to be 80% accurate under control conditions how are we supposec to be 100% accurate out in the rain and snow?

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  • What are you Amanda Glover? . Another civil-service, cloned control freak with nothing better to do? . People don't go into farming to push paper at great expense and inconvenience just to keep you employed. With the hours these people have to put in they don't even get minimum wage many of them.

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  • 50% of EID tags lost over the winter out on the hill. Shan't bother again.

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