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March 16, 2010 11:13 AM

East Midlands MEP Bill Newton Dunn l has joined calls by UK Liberal Democrat MEPs in the European Parliament's Agricultural Committee to delay punishing farmers for tagging infringements that came into force at the beginning of this year until the technical problems with sheep tagging have been ironed out.

New EU regulations on the electronic identification (EID) of sheep were agreed in 2003 in response to the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001 and an inability to identify the sheep involved in it. However, the implementation of rules varies widely across Europe, and UK farming unions have been leading the fight against the costly and complicated new rules on individual ID and traceability for sheep.

East Midlands MEP Bill Newton Dunn said:

"The Liberal Democrats have opposed the compulsory electronic identification of sheep from the start as it causes unnecessary burdens for sheep farmers in the East Midlands and there have been several complaints about technical problems with the new system.

"It is unreasonable that technical problems should cause small livestock farmers huge and disproportionate deductions in their Single Farm Payments. We need to make sure the technical problems are sorted out without imposing even bigger and unfair costs on hard pressed local farmers.

"I welcome the Committee's amendments to the CAP Simplification Report calling for the criteria and penalties for non-compliance to be applied in a more proportionate way."