EU threat over cattle is lifted

MEP Emma McClarkin. Photo contributed.
MEP Emma McClarkin. Photo contributed.

Fears over a possible mandatory electronic-tagging scheme for cattle were lifted last week as Conservative MEPs, including East Midlands MEP Emma McClarkin, threw their weight behind a voluntary approach.

Farmers had been wary of the possibility that the EU might impose a compulsory programme of Electronic Identification (EID) for cattle – particularly after a similar scheme for sheep was widely condemned as impractical and inflexible.

Conservative MEPs were among a majority in Strasbourg backing a voluntary approach to bovine EID which had been put forward by the European Commission instead of a mandatory regime.

Now it will be up to each member state to decide how best to apply EID technology in cattle farming. Electronic tagging can provide huge benefits in ensuring traceability and in controlling diseases such as foot and mouth and blue tongue – but Conservatives were anxious to avoid the imposition of a rigid system of compulsory tagging.

Miss McClarkin said: “The EID system for sheep has been imposed on farmers in the East Midlands despite strong opposition. It has now been around long enough for us to know that it just does not work efficiently.

“Attempting to impose compulsory tagging across the board - regardless of the huge variety of scale and the differing husbandry to be found across bovine agriculture – will cause bureaucratic havoc.

“We have done all we can to spare farmers more of the same nonsense.”