Smith Takes Anti Sheep ID Campaign To London

29 January 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has requested a meeting with UK Secretary of State for Rural Affairs Hilary Benn to request his help in bringing the battle against individual sheep ID back onto the agenda of the Council of Ministers.

Smith has also hailed the prominent role played by leading Scots figures in a hearing held yesterday in the European Parliament on the issue, and pledged his continuing efforts on the campaign to stop the proposals being implemented. The hearing heard presentations from Romania, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy comparing their various experiences of EID technology and whether any individual traceability regime could be workable.

Speaking after the meeting Smith said:

"It was, as ever, great to help get as many strong Scots voices to the fore in this debate. The strength of the presentations from Jack Clark, George Milne and Jimmy Sinclair from the NSA, and Jim Mclaren from NFUS, left the meeting in no doubt that Scotland is utterly united in our opposition to these proposals, and it is heartening to see that other countries are now waking up to the implications.

"However, I cautioned the meeting that we must not get hung up on the issue of EID itself. The technology is simply the means to an end, the problem is that even if we win the battle on EID, the obligation to individually identify sheep would remain. This is contained in the original Council Regulation 21/2004, and with this in mind I have written to UK Minister Hilary Benn to meet with him to seek to open up a new front in this argument.

"The fact is, unless we can get this issue back onto the agenda of the Council of Ministers we are not at the races. While I have no doubt that Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead is totally opposed to the proposals also, under the current constitutional arrangements we must work with the UK apparatus, and I hope that I will find a sympathetic ear in London. It is clear that we are not without allies in the Council, from presentations yesterday it is clear that the Dutch, Spanish, Italians and others are waking up to the practical difficulties individual ID will create."