Smith Backs NFU EID Amnesty Call

17 February 2010
SNP Member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) backed calls from the NFU to see an "amnesty" on EID as the scheme implementation rolls out.

The MEP has already received assurances from the European Commission that the cross-compliance issues will be proportionate and sympathetic, but Smith wants this to be explicitly spelled out.

The Scottish government has already made every effort to ensure that the roll out of EID is done in a way that is the most user-friendly possible, but doubts over the cross-compliance issues remain.

Speaking before his attendance at the NFUS AGM tomorrow in St Andrews, Smith said:

"EID remains the case study of why we need to be on our toes in Europe, and avoid complacency just because timescales might be a bit longer term. Scotland's politicians, and farmers frankly, were sleeping when EID was agreed to, and when I was elected in 2004 and the SNP government elected in 2007 we inherited a botched job which we're now responsible for implementing and it irritates me intensely.

"I have, I hope, had some success in chipping away at the worst parts of the package, and that process remains underway. I have had assurances that the European Commission, responsible for policing the implementation, will take as proportionate a view as they can, but that might mean anything.

"Farmers are well used to being penalised for the tiniest inadvertent slip up, and EID could be a massive source of problems. The trials of the technology demonstrated that the tags have a long way to go in their development, and there will be teething problems.

"I have every confidence that the Scottish government will be as proportionate as they can, but I do support the NFU's call to see a formal acknowledgement of the difficulties EID will bring."