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Proposed cattle EID rules must not follow sheep debacle, says NFU
2:55pm Friday 14th September 2012 in News
The NFU has urged European policy makers to learn from their mistakes on the law governing the electronic tagging of sheep when implementing new rules for bovine EID.
The call comes as MEPs adopted new suggested guidelines for farmers that choose to use electronic identification in cattle.
After heavy lobbying from the NFU, the MEPs backed the European Commission proposals for bovine EID to be voluntary and rejected an amendment to introduce mandatory EID ten years from now. The MEPs also accepted an amendment put forward by the NFU to acknowledge that errors while using EID technology are often outside of farmers’ control, such as faulty tags or inaccurate electronic readers, and as such shouldn’t be penalised under cross compliance rules. Charles Sercombe, NFU livestock board chairman, cautiously welcomed the MEP vote.
“The letters EID strike fear into farmers after the debacle we experienced over sheep EID. That is why we have worked in Brussels with MEPs and policy makers to learn from the mistakes on electronic sheep tagging with these proposals on bovine EID,” he said.
“It is essential that the introduction of bovine EID is voluntary to allow farmers to choose to use the technology if they are likely to see a benefit in their farm business. For those farmers that do use the technology it is equally important that they are not penalised for errors which are beyond their control.
“Given our past experiences it is slightly worrying that the MEPs have asked the Commission to review the voluntary rules on bovine in five years from now but we will continue to work in Brussels to make sure our cattle farmers do not suffer under this review.”
The MEP vote on the bovine EID regulation comes after the European Commission published proposals to amending its current regulation on the identification and registration of bovine animals in August last year. The proposals provide for the voluntary introduction of bovine electronic identification and the deletion of voluntary beef labelling provisions.
The MEP conclusions will now be passed to EU agriculture ministers to consider, before being passed back to the European Parliament for its final approval.