Eilidh Whiteford



Saturday, 9 January 2010

SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has welcomed the statement from Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead that there is no need for immediate action on new sheep tagging rules.

Although the European regulations on Electronic Identification (EID) came into force on January 1, they apply to lambs born after December 31 and even then only when they reach 9 months old or leave the farm of birth.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said:

"In the face of Europe's decision to introduce sheep EID, we have fought tirelessly to secure concessions even though we always faced an uphill struggle after the UK Government with the support of the previous Scottish administration signed up to them a few years ago. The important concessions we have since secured will reduce the impact of the regulation and cut farmers costs' by around 50 per cent.

"In the meantime it is important that farmers realise that electronic tagging is only required for lambs born after December 31. That gives farmers a few months to prepare and we will be issuing detailed implementation guidance in the New Year. The recent consultation on their implementation was very helpful but there remains a few issues to be ironed out and I have been discussing with the industry in recent weeks how best to take these forward.

"However, I wish to make it clear that in taking decisions over which derogations should be used and how we implement sheep EID in Scotland, my guiding principles will be simplicity and practicality. Most of all, I want to avoid introducing any regime that ends up causing problems and has to be fixed in a year or two because we took the wrong decisions now. I will of course being paying close attention to the potential costs under each scenario for our valuable sheep sector."

Banff & Buchan candidate Eilidh Whiteford added:

"As well as securing concessions in Europe on critical control points and phased implementation, the Scottish Government has also taken a number of other steps to reduce the impact of the new rules and ensure successful implementation.

"These include support of up to £1000 per farm for the purchase of electronic reading equipment; a £3 million research pilot to find the best solutions for implementing the rules in Scotland; and a database to help producers meet their legal obligations and provide valuable feedback.

"Of course, we would not be in this position now if Scotland had had it's own voice at the top table in Europe when all of this was signed away and agreed to years ago by the London Government aided by their Lib-Lab colleagues in the old Scottish Executive.

"This underlines the need for strong Scottish representation in Europe and is why rural Scotland continues to back the SNP, as confirmed again by last year's Euro-elections."

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