SHETLAND sheep producers are to be surveyed over the next few weeks as part of the fight to relax European electronic tagging (EID) rules.
SNP MEP Alyn Smith MEP says he is focusing his survey on Shetland to gather “real statistics and data” on the impact of the new EID rules on the industry.
Mr Smith said Shetland was a microcosm that could show the impact across Scotland but within a clearly defined and distinct area.
The evidence from the survey will be presented to European Commission officials in July to keep up the pressure for a derogation to allow double tagging homebred ewes electronically only when they leave the farm.
The survey will look for rates of destocking among Shetland’s farmers, why they are destocking and what would help stem this tide.
Each farmer in Shetland will receive a copy of the survey through the post in the coming weeks. Survey responses will be treated confidentially and, after collation into one statistical document, will be destroyed.
Mr Smith said he was keeping to his promise that he would leave “no stone unturned” fighting EID.
“I was delighted that the European Commissioner has been so open to a review of the package, but this must be based on facts and statistics. This survey will gather real facts, and will strengthen our case,” he said.
“Allowing homebred ewes to be managed on farm with a single flock ID and then only double tagging electronically when leaving the farm would significantly reduce compliance problems, ear tag retention and ear damage problems while not reducing traceability in any meaningful way.
“Any pressure that can be brought to bear on the commission will help our case, whether it is now or in two years when the whole regulation is open for review.”
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