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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE WITH SHEEP EID SCHEME WELCOMED BY WHITEFORD

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the announcement from Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead of Scottish Government support for the sheep sector for the implementation of electronic tagging.

The UK Government and the previous Liberal/Labour Scottish Executive agreed to the EU's Sheep ID plans back in 2003. Since that time, SNP Euro-MPs and, since 2007, the new SNP Scottish Government have been working to minimise the effect of the regulations on the industry and keep costs and administration to as low a level as possible.

NFU Scotland President Jim McLaren has described the measures on offer from the Scottish Government as "a tremendous package".

Commenting, Eilidh Whiteford said:

"Electronic tagging of sheep has been controversial, not least because it has been introduced as a result of the London Government taking its eye off the ball in Europe and signing up to something that no competent Scottish administration would have allowed, had Scotland had its own voice in Europe.

"However, Richard Lochhead and his SNP Euro-MP colleagues have fought tooth and nail at every opportunity to ensure that the administrative and cost burdens of this scheme are as limited as they can be. I saw sheep going through the electronic tag reader which is already in place at Thainstone Mart last week and it was underlined to me by ANM Group General manager John Gregor in my discussions with him that minimising the cost and the bureaucracy is key not only to the success of the scheme but also to the future of the sheep sector.

"Richard Lochhead has come forward with a set of proposals which do exactly that and I am pleased that NFU Scotland has voiced their support for the support package on offer from the SNP Government."

Banff & Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson added:

"Electronic tagging of sheep has been a major issue at my meetings with NFU branches and individual farmers for some time now.

"It's still immensely disappointing that successive Unionist administrations signed up for this with little or no thought as to the consequences for Scotland. However, I know that Richard Lochhead will continue to fight for concessions from Europe on the one hand, while making every effort to minimise the impact on the sheep industry of this measure which Scotland never sought and didn't want."

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