Another Voice In Opposition To EID Plans

05 May 2009
Opposition to EU plans to introduce mandatory individual identification of sheep and goats has today (Tuesday) received a boost after Alyn Smith MEP, Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, received confirmation that the Lithuanians would support EU-wide moves to make the scheme voluntary.

The Lithuanian response comes only a week after the Polish Minister for Agriculture Tadeusz Nalewajk replied to Smith's letter saying: "...Taking into account the costs of EID, I agree [with Smith's proposed solution to the package] that making EID optional will meet expectations of sheep breeders in Europe."

Last month Smith met UK Agriculture Minister Hilary Benn in London alongside representatives from NFUS and the National Sheep Association to discuss the plans. In this meeting Smith urged Benn to bring this item back on to the agenda of the European Council and support his stance.

Smith remains convinced that there only needs to be one small alteration to the legislation - it should be voluntary not compulsory.

Smith said:

"Lithuania's response is a welcome one. Such support adds even greater muscle to calls for this directive to be revisited by Europe's Agriculture Ministers before it inflicts enormous damage on our already weakened sheep sector.

"I want to see just one simple change: make it voluntary rather than compulsory, allow people to opt in should they wish, and let the industry decide. It seems that this stance is one that other member states have increasing sympathy with as the date of implementation draws ever nearer.

"I have been extremely active in pushing other member states to bring this issue up their agenda and build the anti-EID coalition. The Irish, the Poles and the Hungarians have already come forward in support of my position, and I remain hopeful that such positive responses will continue to come into my office from other member states.

"I will continue to fight this and will work with anyone and everyone to see this legislation altered accordingly."