NFU Scotland and National Sheep Association (Scotland) have met with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn in Westminster to seek reassurances on his continued opposition to Europe’s plans for compulsory individual movement recording and electronic identification (EID) of sheep.
The regulations on electronic tagging are due to come into force at the beginning of 2010 with the reporting of individual sheep movements necessary from January 2011.
MEP Alyn Smith facilitated the meeting between NFU Scotland, NSA (Scotland) and Mr Benn.
Speaking after the meeting, NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said:
“The EU proposals, as they stand, are costly and impractical and we will continue to seek a workable, pragmatic solution for Scottish sheep farmers. For that to happen, we will need the political support of Mr Benn in Europe as we continue to challenge the need for these EU proposals to be compulsory rather than voluntary. Today’s meeting was very helpful and constructive.
“Concerns over the proposed regulation on sheep movement recording and electronic tagging were well aired at the meeting of EU farm ministers in March. Although wholesale changes to the regulation did not receive unanimous support, all Member States got a better insight into the problems this regulation will create, and we believe the possibility of more practical implementation still exists. Governments at Holyrood and Westminster can help deliver that.”
Securing additional support from other Member States may hold the key. The March council meeting of EU farm ministers discussed a proposal from the Hungarians to make aspects of the regulation voluntary which was supported by the UK, Ireland, Greece and other Eastern bloc countries. France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain rejected the proposal.
NSA (Scotland) Field Officer, George Milne said:
“We need to continue focussing our attentions on other member states and win over both their farmers and their politicians to the dangers in the regulation. The Swedes will take over the Presidency of the EU shortly and we expect to be meeting with the Swedish Federation of Farmers soon to seek their support. We also need to meet with Spanish farmers, who are becoming increasingly unhappy with what is on the table but lack the support of their politicians. The fight for common sense goes on and it is good to see Scotland and the UK continue to present a united front on this.”
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