European support against EID grows

The campaign against EU plans to introduce mandatory electronic tagging (EID) of sheep has received the support of several European governments, with Austria the latest to confirm its opposition.

In a letter to all of the EU’s agriculture ministers, Scottish MEP Alyn Smith has proposed that the regulations should be made voluntary rather than compulsory and he has already received letters supporting his proposal from the governments of Poland, Luthuania, Latvia and Ireland.

Austria is the latest government to respond, stating in a letter to Smith that “Austria considers the obligatory introduction of electronic identification to be problematic” and the Austrians “advocate the request of avoiding obligatory electronic identification and choosing optional electronic identification.”

Smith, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: “Yet again good news in the fight against EID. Each country that comes forward with a clear and determined stance against the introduction of compulsory electronic tagging is another step forward for this campaign.

“I will not let this rest. The support is there across the EU and I want to see this brought back on to the Council agenda. I am only after one small change - just make this regulation voluntary.

“For those farmers who feel that EID offers benefits for their stock management practices then let them use the technology but do not force it on an industry that is in no position to take on these extra costs.”

NFU livestock board chairman, Alistair Mackintosh, is due to meet with European sheep breeding organisations to discuss EID in Germany later this week. Mackintosh is hoping to encourage industry organisations across the EU to lobby their governments and raise further support at EU level.

The NFU is currently working with Defra to find ways to minimise the regulations’ impact and increase the flexibility of its implementation.

“The NFU will never accept the need for compulsory EID in the British sheep industry and to that end we will leave no stone unturned in looking for options to make this regulation fit for purpose,” said Mackintosh.

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