THE European Commission has agreed to consider a Scottish ‘wish list’ to reduce red tape associated with sheep EID (electronic identification).
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead, while in Brussels, took the opportunity to meet a senior official in Commissioner Dalli’s cabinet.
He said: “We’ve always said the EID rules are too bureaucratic which is why we fought hard to obtain important concessions that have significantly reduced red tape.
“However, I am sympathetic to farmers’ ongoing concerns and we are continuing to do all we can to minimise the impact of the rules and help them avoid penalties
“That’s why I met with a member of Commissioner Dalli’s cabinet to discuss ways to reduce the impact of EID while retaining the principle of traceability which lies at the heart of these rules.” He continued: “The EC have confirmed that – contrary to press reports – there are no plans for an imminent review of these regulations. However, they have agreed to help us to maximise the use of the flexibilities we have already obtained and are also willing to consider a wish list of further flexibilities.
“I believe that minor omissions – such as when a farmer tags sheep, or what he records about sheep which are staying on the holding – should not attract penalties. Such rules do nothing to improve traceability.”
As well as discussing the topic in Brussels, Mr Lochhead has also written to key industry representatives to outline further steps the Scottish Government is taking to minimise the impact of electronic identification.
These include: better integration of the ScotEID and SAMU databases; commissioning an analysis of tag read rates; and an ‘end of life’ analysis of tags to assess the main reason for tag read failure amongst others.
“The Scottish Government has also agreed – following a productive meeting with key industry representatives – a number of further steps which we can take to help the industry. These clearly demonstrate our determination to tackle this issue,” Mr Lochhead went on.
“Going forward, Scotland must speak with one voice if we want to maximise our influence as we work to persuade the EC that our system is sufficiently robust to allow us to introduce further flexibility without damaging traceability.”