EID Fight Rumbles On In Brussels

23 March 2009
Alyn Smith MEP has today welcomed Hungarian support in the ongoing battle against the individual electronic identification (EID) of sheep and goats.

Europe's Agriculture Ministers, including Hilary Benn MP, are today (Monday) meeting in Brussels for their regular Agricultural Council. The Hungarian minister has raised the issue of EID under 窶連ny Other Business', putting forward their reservations on the scheme and underlining the difficulties that the regulation would impose on Europe's sheep sector.

Smith, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has been spearheading the campaign against EID in the Parliament. He has requested a meeting with Hilary Benn in order to discuss this issue but has yet to hear a response. He has again, today, contacted Mr Benn to impress on him the urgency of the situation.

Mr Smith said:

"And so the battle rumbles on. Today's meeting has reinforced the strength of feeling that is building across the EU on this, and it all helps to put pressure on the Czech EU Presidency to revisit this regulation before any serious damage is done to Europe's sheep sector.

"We must get the support of as many individual member states as possible if we are going to see this altered. I am currently drawing up a letter which will be sent to all EU Agriculture Ministers signed by a cross-party group of MEPs asking for their support on this matter. It is only with their collaboration that this can be amended.

"While I am particularly pleased to see this brought up in the Agricultural Council, unfortunately as it was classed as 窶連ny Other Business' it was not allocated as much debating or discussion time as it warrants and needs. With greater EU-wide support, I hope this will be rectified."

Mr Smith's email to Hilary Benn is below:

Dear Minister,

I write to urge you to support the Hungarian position on the electronic identification of sheep and goats when it comes before the European Agricultural Council today. The current EID regulation, albeit well-meaning, is flawed and unworkable, and is liable to precipitate an economic disaster for sheep farming. With 73 percent of Scotland's livestock producers threatening to reduce their flock numbers if Council Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 is introduced as it currently stands, and one-third contemplating a complete end to sheep farming, this regulation must be brought back to the Council to be revisited before permanent harm is done to the industry.

Further, I am sorry that we have not yet been able to find a date in order to meet to discuss this issue but I hope to hear from you as soon as possible as this is now a matter of considerable urgency.

Thank you in advance.

Yours,

Alyn Smith MEP for Scotland