Smith Welcomes Commission Advice On EID Cross Compliance

17 September 2010
Alyn Smith MEP, Scottish full member of the European Parliament's powerful Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, and long-time campaigner on the sheep EID regulation, has given a cautious welcome to a new Commission publication on CAP simplification.
The document offers farmers some relief on the issue of potential cross compliance penalties due to errors with the EID technology that are deemed to be outwith the farmer's control.

The Commission statement was a direct response to the Parliament's Ashworth Report on CAP simplification, which Mr Smith successfully amended to call for a three year amnesty on cross compliance penalties to allow time for the new regulation and technology to bed in.

The Commission states: "In relation to Cross Compliance a proportionate approach should be ensured.  In this context, failures, breakdowns, shortcomings, which are not within the range of influence of the keeper but casually determined by the technology used and within the normal error rate of that technology should not be sanctioned."  It also says: "it would not be proportionate to consider automatically as triggering cross-compliance reductions a case where, for one or several animals, one ear tag is missing."

Mr Smith will be meeting with Commission representatives, alongside representatives of NFUS, in the coming weeks to clarify this issue.

Smith said:

"Though this does not go quite as far as I would like - a full amnesty for cross compliance penalties regarding the sheep EID Regulation for three years - it is still comforting to know that the Commission have taken our concerns on board.

"One of the main reasons why we fought so hard against this Regulation was that the technology, as it stands, is not up to standard: error rates of over 5% have been recorded.  This puts our farmers at risk of having their Single Farm Payment docked for reasons which are not within their control, and it is simply not fair.

"The history of this legislation has shown that well-informed, smart lobbying can produce concessions: we now have a slaughter derogation and removal of the requirement to scan animals on farm, which should reduce the cost burden on farmers considerably.  I believe that we can achieve results on cross compliance penalties too.  I will be meeting with the Commission to reinforce this point, and secure further clarity on their stance.  So far the noises have been positive, but we need to keep the pressure up."