NFU Scotland has joined thousands of European farmers on the streets of Luxembourg today (22 June) buoyed by the good news that damaging EU proposals on sheep identification will once again be discussed by Europe’s agricultural ministers this afternoon.
The EU regulation 21/2004 demands that electronic identification of sheep will be required from 1 January 2010.
The farmer demonstration was set up by the umbrella organisation for European farming unions and co-operatives, Copa-Cogeca. It coincides with the meeting of the Agricultural Council. The demonstration is to highlight the ongoing importance of food production as the single biggest economic activity in Europe, as well as serious problems in specific sectors such as dairy.
At the council meeting of agricultural ministers, changes to the EU regulations on sheep identification and movement recording, due to come into force from the end of this year, will be raised under Any Other Business by the UK Government. If the regulations are brought into force as intended, many Scottish sheep farmers have indicated that they would give up or reduce the numbers of sheep they keep.
Speaking from Luxembourg, NFU Scotland Vice-President Allan Bowie said:
“I congratulate Scottish and UK politicians for raising the forthcoming sheep regulations with their counterparts. These regulations, if unchecked, will bring a move to electronic tagging and the need to record the movement of every individual sheep. That is a step too far for most sheep producers in Scotland.
“NFUS and other stakeholders around the country have been waging a non-stop campaign aimed at getting the EU and most other Member States to wake up to the dangers in these proposals. The number of farming groups around Europe that are now lobbying their own ministers on this subject has grown month by month and support for change throughout Europe is growing.
“We are only six months away from this regulation being implemented and we desperately need a common sense approach that will allow Scottish farmers to meet acceptable demands on traceability of their sheep. Without that, the bureaucracy and cost generated by the regulation will see the shrinkage in Scotland’s sheep flock accelerate.”
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