NFU Scotland is adamant that if Scotland is forced to comply with the damaging European proposals on electronic tagging of sheep and movement reporting then a central database to record movements, funded and maintained by the Scottish Government, must be at the core of the Scottish system.
The Scottish Government has today (Monday, 7 September) launched its consultation entitled: ‘Implementation Proposals For EU Requirements Regarding Electronic Identification (EID) Of Sheep And Individual Recording Of Sheep And Goats.’ It looks at the implementation of Regulation 21/2004, due to come into force from the end of this year, which will make it obligatory for all Scottish sheep keepers to electronically tag sheep born after this date and keep a record of each animal’s individual identity every time they move.
The Scottish industry, including the Scottish Government, has opposed the introduction of the regulation, believing that it will deliver little benefit over existing requirements but will bring additional cost and bureaucracy. Some concessions to the regulation have already been secured, and the Union continues to work in Europe and with Scottish Government to seek further flexibility in how the rules will be applied.
NFU Scotland Vice-President, Nigel Miller said:
“While no-one, including the Scottish Government, believes that the European requirements for electronic tagging and movement reporting are necessary, the reality is that discussions on implementation must take place at the same time as we push for further concessions and flexibility.
“Concessions already agreed, including the ability to use critical control points such as markets and abattoirs to report movements electronically, will help strip out some of the costs. Our current system for reporting sheep movements is based on the Scottish Animal Movement Unit (SAMU) and upgrading this to a central database that meets the European requirements on traceability could be an important step to reducing the possible burden of compliance on farmers and the rest of industry.
“When the industry sits down to discuss the regulation and its consultation with our Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead this week (Thursday, 10 September), the development of a database, funded and run by the Scottish Government, will be high on our list of priorities going forward.
“We also need to study all the options included in the Scottish Government consultation to see what will best meet the needs of our sheep producers. Derogation for animals destined for slaughter and less than one year old is a key issue. This may be attractive for breeders but holds implications for those finishers who buy large numbers of lambs each year, often from many other farmers.
“Our recent round of EID roadshows, held with the NSA, concluded at Thurso last week and were attended by more than 1000 Scottish sheep farmers. These meetings raised concerns over farmer to farmer sales of sheep and the need for a system that recognises traditional annual movements of sheep to season grazings or for over-wintering. We already have a clear steer as to what is and isn’t acceptable to our sheep producers and that will be fed in to the Scottish Government’s consultation process as well as driving our continued efforts to secure further concessions at a European level.”
The Scottish Government consultation can be found at the following link:
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