Fresh spat over electronic tagging figures

IN THE latest war of words over what has been agreed or not agreed on recording sheep movements, Borders farmer Jim Hume MSP and his Liberal Democrat colleague George Lyon MEP have called for immediate answers from the Scottish Government rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead after it was revealed by the European Commission that no deal exists over compliance rates for EID.

According to Lyon, who met European health commissioner John Dalli earlier this week, the commission has made it clear that the setting up of cross compliance is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and that it has not approved or agreed precise accuracy requirements.

“I asked Commissioner Dalli to publish the details of the special flexibility on electronic identification read rates that the Scottish Government claimed it had secured from the European Commission,” he said.

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“They have now made it clear that, while there was an exchange of letters between the UK authorities and the commission, they have not approved any specific read rate and point out that it is Richard Lochhead and the Scottish Government who are solely responsible for cross compliance.”

Lyon claimed that Scottish farmers would be extremely disappointed and confused to find out that the minister had not secured agreement with the commission allowing flexibility on EID read rates.

Hume challenged the rural affairs secretary on the same issue at the rural affairs session in the Scottish Parliament but claimed he did not get any definitive response

Late last night a Scottish Government spokeswoman said that the government had tried to find a workable solution for Scottish farmers and lessen needless bureaucracy.

“Crucially, we obtained flexibility that means farmers need not fear they will be penalised for failing to reach 100 per cent. We have never claimed that we have been given a specific read rate from the commission,” she said.

Yesterday’s spat comes after Lyon revealed he had received a statement from the EU Health commissioner that he was “not opposed” to reviewing the EID rules.