Changes put forward to the Common Agriculture Policy could see complex sheep EID rules relaxed. A number of MEPs from across the UK have tabled amendments to CAP reform process which would introduce an element of tolerance in the EID rules.
George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has laid amendments aimed at removing the threat of SFP cross-compliance penalties for farmers who have failed to comply with strict requirements in EID to replace sheep tags lost through no fault of their own.
His changes would also compel the European Commission to introduce guidelines setting out further flexibility for Member States on the implementation of EID rules.
Another change, put forward by a group of Conservative MEPs also calls on the Commission to issue guidelines on the interpretation of the rules on animal identification that reflect, particularly in the case of electronic systems, that 100% accuracy is often not possible and some tolerance should be built in.
The move by MEPs has been backed by farming unions in England and Scotland. NFU Scotland’s Livestock Policy Manager, John Sleigh said:
“Through our Brussels office, UK unions have worked closely with MEPs throughout the process and we are pleased they have taken this opportunity to challenge the Commission rules with some new amendments. We must now work doubly hard to get support from a majority of MEPs in the European Parliament to push these changes. That will be a challenge.
“Given nearly 7,500 amendments have been tabled to the Commission’s CAP proposals it will be a hard task, but our Brussels office will work closely with our colleagues from across Europe to try to ensure a positive result,” he said.
NFU chief livestock advisor Pete Garbutt added: “Right from the outset the NFU has lobbied to make the rules on sheep EID fair and workable.
“It’s clear that we need a practical system of traceability and disease control but that the current regulation is not delivering this. It instead gives farmers a set of complex rules and regulations that often fall down because of technology failures that are nothing to do with the farmer.”
The European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee is likely to vote on the amendments in the autumn with a possible vote by all MEPs towards the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013.