Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Campaigning against compulsory sheep EID

Our campaign against the Commission's plans for compulsory electronic identification of sheep (EID) continued today with the launch of a cross-party and cross-national written declaration. Over the past while we have been working together with 3 other MEPs - Mairead McGuinness (Fianna Gael), Jim Nicholson (Ulster Unionist), Neil Parish (Conservatives and chair of the Agriculture Committee) and Jill Evans (Plaid) in putting together the written declaration which calls on the Commission to halt its plans for compulsory EID.

With the publication of the written declaration this means we now have until 4 December to gather as much support as possible from other MEPs across the EU in backing our campaign. If the written declaration is adopted by a majority of MEPs it becomes the official policy of the EP and the declaration is forwarded to the Commission, the Council and to the governments and parliaments of the 27 EU Member States.

The written declaration follows a delegation Alyn invited from Scotland's National Sheep Association and the National Farmer's Union of Scotland to Brussels to present a 7,000 signatures petition to the EP's Petitions Committee. Next month the NSA and NFUS are back in Brussels this time to give evidence to the EP's Agriculture Committee on the implications of the Commission's sheep EID proposals on Scotland's sheep sector.

Below is the text of the written declaration on electronic sheep identification scheme.

Written declaration on
the electronic identification system for sheep (EID)
The European Parliament,
– having regard to Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas sheep and goat farming is important to the social, environmental and economic fabric of the EU,
B. whereas the sheep sector is in decline owing to lack of prosperity; whereas the next generation is reluctant to enter sheep production; and whereas, if this is left to continue, the skills base will be lost,
1. Calls on the Commission to recognise that batch recording and movement standstills of sheep are more cost-effective forms of protection from disease spread than EID and individual movement recording;
2. Calls on the Commission to recognise that producer incomes in the sheep sector are characteristically low and that the implementation of EID will result in a significant cost to a sector that can ill afford a further regulatory burden;
3. Calls on the Commission to make sheep EID voluntary but not mandatory;
4. Calls on the Commission to recognise that the implementation of EID and individual recording of sheep will affect the competitiveness of the EU sheep sector on the world market;
5. Calls on the Commission to recognise that there are significant practical problems that prevent the effective operation of EID in extensive livestock systems and within climatic conditions commonly experienced in northern Europe;
. Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories, to the Council, the Commission and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

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