Liam Aylward MEP, author of the European Parliament Report on the future of the lamb/sheep sector and Member of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, today met with Commissioner Dalli, European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, in Strasbourg to bring his attention to the problems that sheep farmers are currently facing in relation sheep EID and penalties that they could incur as a result of faulty technology.
Since 1st January 2010 all sheep need to be identified electronically and tagged with the individual identity of each animal being recorded in a holding register and kept on the farm.
Speaking following the meeting Liam Aylward MEP stated that:
“Given that the European Commission itself has recognised that there is still potential for EID to be inaccurate in relation to Bovine EID, it is unacceptable that they hold sheep farmers to unattainable standards.”
This regulation requires 100% accuracy on all sheep movements, regardless of whether the sheep are kept in pens, fields, or allowed to roam. If a sheep then goes missing, and can’t be traced, the farmer faces heavy financial penalties
Continuing the Ireland East MEP said:
“It goes without question that consumers have a right to know where their food has come from. It is also beyond doubt that measures are needed to help stop the spread of TB and Foot-and-Mouth disease. However the system needs to work with the realities of sheep farming and the Commission must afford farmers some flexibility given the flaws in technology that are beyond their control.”
Commissioner Dalli was sympathetic to the views expressed and even though the legislation is in place, promised to review the workings and practicalities of its implementation and its effect on individual Member States.
The Ireland East MEP has also initiated a campaign on this issue in the European Parliament and will be urging his fellow MEPs to support sheep farmers in this regard.
“I am currently involved in a new campaign in the European Parliament via a Written Declaration that is calling on the Commission to be more tolerant of farmer’s needs, the reality of sheep farming and animal welfare. Given the Commissioner’s positive response to this issue today, I hope this campaign will turn the situation in sheep farmers’ favour.”
The Written Declaration asks the European Commission to look into introducing levels of tolerance to reflect the unreliability of current technology to read sheep movements and will be officially opened in the European Parliament in early December.