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FUW highlights EID penalty concerns to Commission officials


The Farmers’ Union of Wales has joined farming organisations from across the UK in highlighting to European Commission officials the need for sheep tagging rules to reflect the shortcomings of EID technology.

During a visit by officials from the EC departments responsible for animal health and agriculture to Penrith Market in Cumbria, and a subsequent meeting, FUW director of agricultural policy Nick Fenwick highlighted the industrys concerns regarding the impact of the regulation.

Speaking after the meeting, Dr Fenwick said: While the FUW maintains its wholehearted objection to compulsory sheep EID, the reality is that the EU is in no hurry to change the general regime.

One immediate focus is, therefore, to persuade the commission to make allowances which ensure that failures in the technology do not result in farmers being penalised for cross compliance breaches.

During the visit the commission was presented with a host of data confirming that error rates were significant and that the proportion of batches read at markets containing errors could be as high as 30%.

The commission accepted that 100% reliability of the technology is not realistic and made some encouraging noises regarding the general principle that there should be no penalty against a farmer for circumstances which are not reasonably within their control. They also stated that penalties need to be proportionate.

During the meeting, the commission referred to existing EC guidelines regarding other issues where normal error rates should not result in farmers being penalised, marking a welcome acceptance that principles which apply in other areas should extend to the sheep EID regime.

The problem associated with individually recording and reporting the movements of sheep born before 2010 after 2011 was also highlighted during the meeting.

Having to record and report individual movements of pre-2010 animals after 2011 will be a major problem for the industry, and the common sense solution would be to allow such sheep to be reported and recorded in batches until they are out of the system, Dr Fenwick added.

The commission also agreed to consider the issue of older sheep, as well as a number of other concerns raised at the meeting.

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