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FUW slams EC refusal to recognise sheep EID problems


The EC’s failure to allow rules which deal with technological failures while using electrical instruments to read electronic sheep identification (EID) tags was slammed by Farmers’ Union of Wales president Gareth Vaughan today (Wednesday May 18).

Speaking at the NSA Welsh Sheep Event near Machynlleth, Mr Vaughan revealed he had written to the ECs agriculture and rural affairs commissioner Dacian Ciolos and health and consumer policy commissioner John Dalli expressing the union’s deep concern and dismay at the ECs response to discussions on tolerance levels for the “inherent and unavoidable problems” associated with compulsory sheep EID.

“The rules in place at the time of the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak were a world away from those which came into force in subsequent years, yet the tragedy which befell UK farmers then is being used to justify regulations which require the use of a technology which cannot deliver the accuracy required by those same rules” said Mr Vaughan, a Newtown sheep farmer.

It is basically a Catch 22 Regulation which is tailor made to create financial penalties for farm businesses, and we had therefore been in discussion to ensure that the inherent shortcomings of the technology were recognised.

Mr Vaughan added that the EC is well aware of the problems with EID technology after being repeatedly presented with evidence which confirms it is not yet capable of delivering 100% accuracy, and had initially accepted the need for dialogue over changes which took these failings into account.

But at a meeting between the UKs devolved administrations and EU officials last week, at which a paper on tolerances was discussed, EC staff were dismissive of any approach which takes account of problems with the technology.

“This leads to the ridiculous situation whereby EC regulations require all those in the supply chain to record animal movements with 100% accuracy using a technology which – despite meeting standards set by the EC – cannot deliver such accuracy, and for farmers to then be financially penalised for these failings.”

Many farmers are now under the impression that the Commissions intention is to deliberately generate penalties by enforcing the use of an expensive technology which cannot deliver full compliance.”

Mr Vaughan urged both European commissioners to ensure their officials take a proportionate approach to the issue of tolerances or provide guidance as to how all businesses involved in the supply chain can affordably get technology, which meets EC standards, to deliver “100% accuracy 100% of the time”.

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