The European Commission has agreed to consider a Scottish ‘wish list’ to reduce red tape associated with sheep EID.
While in Brussels, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead took the opportunity to meet a senior official in Commissioner Dalli’s cabinet. Following the meeting, Mr Lochhead has now written to Commissioner Dalli to initiate this process with a view to easing the burden on farmers.
And Mr Lochhead has also written to key industry representatives, following an earlier meeting, to outline further steps the Scottish Government is taking to minimise the impact of electronic identification (EID).
Better integration of the ScotEID and SAMU databases to give sheep farmers easy access to their data through a single point of access
Commissioning an analysis of tag read rates to establish if poor production batches occur for specific tags
An ‘end of life’ analysis of tags to assess the main reasons for tag read failure
Central reassessment of all 2011 sheep inspection cross compliance penalties to ensure a consistent and proportionate approach is applied
Reassessment of the legislative requirements for record keeping and tagging to assess whether it is possible to reduce any unnecessary bureaucratic burden
Reviewing the Statutory Management Requirement standards table for 2012 to assess the proportionality of the penalty levels placed on each element of the tagging and farm register requirements
Mr Lochhead said:
“We’ve always said the EID rules are too bureaucratic which is why we fought hard to obtain important concessions that have significantly reduced red tape. However, I am sympathetic to farmers’ ongoing concerns and we are continuing to do all we can to minimise the impact of the rules and help them avoid penalties.
“That’s why I met with a member of Commissioner Dalli’s cabinet to discuss ways to reduce the impact of EID while retaining the principle of traceability which lies at the heart of these rules.
“The EC have confirmed that – contrary to press reports – there are no plans for an imminent review of these regulations. However, they have agreed to help us to maximise the use of the flexibilities we have already obtained and are also willing to consider a wish list of further flexibilities.
“This is a very useful offer and I have written to Commissioner Dalli to indicate that we will investigate a range of measures to assess any possible ways of removing needless bureaucracy in relation to the requirements for tagging and farm records.
“I believe that minor omissions - such as when a farmer tags sheep, or what he records about sheep which are staying on the holding - should not attract penalties. Such rules do nothing to improve traceability and I will raise these issues in Brussels.
“The Scottish Government has also agreed – following a productive meeting with key industry representatives – a number of further steps which we can take to help the industry. These clearly demonstrate our determination to tackle this issue.
“Going forward, Scotland must speak with one voice if we want to maximise our influence as we work to persuade the EC that our system is sufficiently robust to allow us to introduce further flexibility without damaging traceability.”