UK farming leaders raise concerns over EID
CONCERNS over the implementation of the electronic tagging (EID) rules for sheep have been raised by UK farming leaders during meetings with delegates from the EU Food and Veterinary Office.
The delegates are in the UK for a fact-finding tour on how it has implemented the rules since its introduction last year.
NFU chief livestock adviser John Mercer, who was accompanied by NFU Cymru president Ed Bailey, said there seemed a ‘genuine willingness’ from the inspectors to listen to the industry’s concerns.
“We emphasised the need for tolerance when it comes to tag reading for all movements of sheep. We stressed it was essential the Commission realises it is impossible to achieve 100 per cent reads 100 per cent of the time, due to a number of factors and working conditions found on farms, markets and abattoirs, and as such formal recognition needs to be given to this.
“Farmers are also rightly concerned about the potential financial implications of read failures and the impact any subsequent SFP penalty would have on their business and income.
“The other main issue raised was the reporting and recording of the historic flock. As of next year farmers will have to individually record the older animals which were identified pre-2010 and therefore do not contain EID tags.
“However, the NFU has asked for this requirement to be put back or postponed in order for these older animals to filter out of the system and ease the pressure on producers.”
Mr Mercer and Mr Bailey also discussed ways in which present regulations could be more suited to UK conditions.
NFU Scotland president Nigel Miller said it was important to stress it was a review, rather than a full blown inspection, and it would help to establish the strengths and weaknesses within the sheep identification rules.
“That is something we would wholeheartedly welcome, particularly the recognition, for a whole host of reasons - welfare, traceability, cost – sheep should only require electronic tagging when they leave the holding of birth.”
There was also considerable scope and a real need for a more targeted user-friendly cross-compliance system around the sheep identification regulations, which avoided unnecessary recording.
“We also expect they will have a better understanding of problems the regulations generate in the large, extensive flocks found in Scotland and how that makes full compliance with the rules very challenging for producers.”