HOPES are rising among sheep farmers that compulsory electronic identification (EID) will no longer be linked to cross compliance when the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) comes into effect.
MEPs voted on a number of amendments to the new CAP from 2014 to 2020, including amending the EID policy to drop the cross compliance link.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) applauded the vote and pointed out that the threat of losing a percentage of their Single Farm Payment is a constant worry for sheep farmers when they are dealing with technology that they cannot guarantee will be 100% accurate.
It said removing the threat would also potentially encourage other farms to reintroduce sheep to their enterprises because although they are aware of the advantages of sheep as a grazing tool, many enterprises feel they are not worth the financial risk because of EID.
Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “We should not underestimate the work that has gone on to get us to this position, such as providing evidence of the level of practical accuracy of EID technology and convincing key influencers that cross compliance penalties based on EID failures is unfair and risks damaging the success of the sheep industry.
“This is a very welcome step forward but we need to keep up our work and we will not get to the finish line until EID is not associated with cross compliance penalties.”
George Milne, development officer for NSA Scotland, said: “MEPs must be congratulated for taking this decision on EID of sheep, as although it still has to be approved by the full parliament, it is a significant step forward.
“If this is fully approved it will bring a huge relief to farmers across the country who become extremely concerned about trying to achieve an unrealistic target of 100% accuracy in recording sheep movements.”
EBLEX has produced a series of online country reports for the beef and sheep meat producing, consuming and trading nations to help farmers with their decision-making process.
The reports provide valuable information about beef cattle and sheep populations, slaughtering and production, and trade in beef and sheep products and live animals in countries including the US, New Zealand, Australia and France.
They are available from the market information section of www.eblex.org.uk and replace the biannual International Meat Market Review, published by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).