The European Commission's plans to introduce compulsory electronic identification (EID) for sheep could lead to a significant number of farmers leaving the industry, the National Farmers' Union warned today.
Livestock industry and government representatives from around the UK met with members of the Commission last week to raise long-standing concerns about the compulsory introduction of EID, which is expected to take place in 2010.
Following the meeting, NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said little headway had been made in meeting farmers' concerns over the cost implications and practicality of the proposed system.
He said: "If it is implemented in its current form, this plan could lead to a significant number of farmers leaving the industry. The NFU will continue to oppose the plan, despite Brussels' determination to impose another raft of unnecessary regulation that we don't need and can ill-afford to pay for.
"The imposition of EID has little to offer farmers in terms of greater efficiency and we would question its value in helping to control disease. The system we currently have in place is more than capable of tracing sheep back to their original holding.
"However, the Commission is insistent that EID will have to be introduced by 2010 and, while there are certain areas that appear non-negotiable, the NFU has identified a number of areas where flexibility may be possible to reduce the impact on the UK sheep industry."
Under the legislation, all animals born after 31 December 2009 must be identified with an electronic form of identification, and the movement of each animal must be recorded and reported.