Union Supports Scottish Solution to EID Compliance

NFU Scotland is calling on Europe to properly recognise the robust traceability being delivered by Scotland’s sheep industry and not press ahead with unrealistic and damaging compliance requirements on electronic tagging (EID) and movement reporting.

It is expected that the Scottish Government and Defra will be in contact with Brussels in the coming days to meet with Commission officials and outline how the sheep sector in various parts of the UK can comply with European rules.  

The Union has given its backing to the Scottish Government believing that it is imperative that the case for the Scottish sheep traceability system, as developed by Scottish stakeholders is properly presented at a European level.  Rather than being deemed non-compliant, the Union believes the Scottish system could provide a benchmark that other Member States with a high volume of sheep movements could follow.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“The next few days will see Scottish Government and Defra contact Europe in a bid to avert the nation’s sheep farmers being lumbered with onerous compliance rules relating to electronic tagging of sheep and movement reporting. A sensible outcome is crucial if we are to ensure that the time and effort put in by stakeholders to develop a Scottish solution is not seriously undermined.

“The priority for the Scottish industry is to get workable compliance standards as some form of payback for the high levels of traceability delivered by our commitment to a database and full electronic tagging. The discussions scheduled in Europe for the end of this week are probably the last opportunity to gain a dividend from what is a good Scottish system.

“Europe’s sheep electronic tagging regulation - Regulation 21/2004 - was designed as a disease tracking mechanism primarily aimed at dealing with an outbreak of a disease such as FMD. It was never designed to provide lifetime individual identification of breeding sheep.  In that regard, Europe forcing through compliance standards that drive the regulation beyond disease tracking is unjustifiable.

“Providing farmers ensure that animals are properly tagged prior to movement, that the movement is suitably recorded - recognising any limits around the technology and tag retention - and the data is promptly transferred through movement documents or direct to the central database then all the key compliance requirements should be met.  That is something that we need the European Commission to fully recognise. 

“The good news is that the regulation opened the door to ending on farm recording of the individual identifications of every animal providing a central database is in place to capture the movement.  We have that in place but need a positive outcome from these negotiations for the benefit to be of use.

“The development here in Scotland of a near real-time database linked to markets and abattoirs provides the mechanism to deliver high levels of traceability. This has been further enhanced in Scotland by the mandatory use of electronic slaughter derogation tags to provide a complete electronic tracking system. Data from Scotland’s sheep EID pilot demonstrates robust tracking of all sheep with up to 97% of all electronic tags being read.

“The reality is that technology and reliability around the tags is limiting and Europe must accept that 100 percent is unrealistic and unachievable.  However, Europe can recognise that the outcomes required by 21/2004 are being delivered by the Scottish system.”


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006



Date Published:

News Article No.: 118/11

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