NFU Scotland is to seek a legal opinion on implementation of European rules and regulations that require the electronic tagging of sheep and recording their movements.
In response to requests from the membership, NFUS has prepared a brief for its lawyers regarding the difficulties many sheep farmers are having complying with Regulation 21/2004 which established a new system for the identification and registration of sheep. The rules came into force at the start of 2010.
NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said:
“In response to the ongoing difficulties our members are experiencing when attempting to comply with the new rules around electronic tagging of sheep and movement reporting, we have instructed our solicitors to consider if we can challenge the rules and any financial penalties that may be imposed.
“Legal opinions, by their nature, are rarely definitive but we will study any legal feedback we receive very closely. There may be no case to pursue or there may be matters that we can take up in court – either here or in Europe. If we decide there is a case then given the likely time and considerable cost involved, such a decision would require very careful consideration and ratification by NFUS board of directors.
“The Union has taken up legal challenges in the past. These have been costly exercises but given the problems EID has caused, we can reassure our members that if there is a case that can be pursued through the courts then we do have a level of contingency funds in place if we do go down that route.
“We have made Scottish Government aware of the work we are undertaking as ultimately this is about establishing a workable, pragmatic traceability system for Scotland’s sheep.
“Our long term goal remains securing wholesale changes into the requirements that sheep keepers have to meet. That requires re-opening and reviewing the regulation. That remains our main focus and we have been in discussions with the European Commission on that throughout the current implementation phase for 21/2004.
“In the meantime, NFUS continues to facilitate meetings around the country between its members and Scottish Government officials regarding compliance with the existing set of rules. Members with queries or concerns are also being encouraged to contact their local Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) office.”