Bovine EID Must Avoid Sheep Pitfalls

Union urges Europe to define cattle specifications

A voluntary approach to the introduction of cattle electronic identification (EID) has been backed by MEPs when they voted on amendments to the Commission’s proposal for bovine EID today (Tuesday, 11 September).
NFUS urged MEPS to adopt the Commission’s original proposal for a voluntary approach to bovine EID that allows Member States to opt for compulsory electronic tagging if they so wish. This will suit those cattle farmers who already use electronic EID for management purposes, but it does not force those farmers who do not currently use the technology to do so. 

The MEPs accepted an amendment put forward by the UK NFU’s to acknowledge that errors made 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.

An amendment calling for cattle EID to be compulsory in 10 years time was rejected, but, disappointingly, MEPs have asked the Commission to review the voluntary option after five years.  That was an amendment that NFUS wanted to be removed.

A major concern to NFUS is that such a vote has been taken without detail on the specifications, the technology, the reporting standards and the key compliance requirements being defined.  The Union has written today to the Commission calling for work in this area to be pulled back on track.  That would help avoid some of the mistakes made when drawing up the unpopular sheep EID rules.

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“With many Scottish livestock farmers still raw about the impact that compulsory sheep EID has had on the sector, it was important that MEPS supported a voluntary route to cattle EID. This allows those farmers who already use electronic cattle tags for management purposes to continue to do so.   It also provides the flexibility should Scotland, as a nation, choose to adopt cattle EID.

“I believe that in Scotland there is a genuine belief that bovine EID could work but that commitment must be underpinned by an appropriate EU regulatory and compliance framework if we are to achieve a positive outcome.

“A vote ahead of decisions being taken on the required technology and compliance standards seems premature.  That is why we have written to the Commission today seeking reassurances that there will be an open dialogue to develop an inclusive and flexible regulation.  That requires lessons from the introduction of sheep EID to be learned if we are to avoid going down an unworkable route.

“The EC must pull the development process of bovine EID back on track by ensuring the specifications required, the technology, the reporting standards, the phasing in of EID and the key compliance requirements are defined and open to scrutiny before options are closed to interested Member States.” 

Notes to Editors

  • 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.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006



Date Published:

News Article No.: 96/12

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