EU threat to sheep industry

APRIL 8, 2008: The European Commission's plans to introduce compulsory electronicidentification (EID) for sheep could lead to a significant number offarmers leaving the industry, the NFU has warned.

Livestockindustry and government representatives from around the UK met withmembers of the Commission last week to raise long-standing concernsabout the compulsory introduction of EID, which is expected to takeplace in 2010.

Following the meeting, NFU livestock boardchairman Alistair Mackintosh said little headway had been made inmeeting farmers' concerns over the cost implications and practicalityof the proposed system.

He said: "If it is implemented in itscurrent form, this plan could lead to a significant number of farmersleaving the industry. The NFU will continue to oppose the plan despiteBrussels' determination to impose another raft of unnecessaryregulation that we don't need and can ill-afford to pay for.

"Theimposition of EID has little to offer farmers in terms of greaterefficiency and we would question its value in helping to controldisease. The system we currently have in place is more than capable oftracing sheep back to their original holding.

"However, theCommission is insistent that EID will have to be introduced by 2010and, while there are certain areas that appear non-negotiable, the NFUhas identified a number of areas where flexibility may be possible toreduce the impact on the UK sheep industry."

Under thelegislation, all animals born after December 31 2009 must be identifiedwith an electronic form of identification, and the movement of eachanimal must be recorded and reported.

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