Farmers and crofters to escape penalties if sheep tagging equipment is faulty

Farmers and crofters will not face penalties as a result of breakdowns of electronic sheep tagging equipment, according to parliamentary answers to isles MSP Tavish Scott.

Mr Scott had asked rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead what would happen to those working with sheep “given that pilots of the electronic identification … are reportedly demonstrating that it will not result in 100 per cent accurate information”.

Mr Lochhead replied: “The penalty regime which applies to farmers and crofters covering breaches of sheep identification and traceability is unchanged. Payment reductions will not be applied under cross compliance where discrepancies are purely as a result of any known technical limitations, including electronic identification equipment.”

However, Mr Scott criticised Mr Lochhead for failing to back the European Parliament agriculture committee’s call for an amnesty on penalties. He said that when he asked whether the Scottish government would seek the agreement of the European Commission for a three-year amnesty, the minister gave no such undertaking, merely stating that he sought a more proportionate approach.

Mr Scott said: “I welcome the news that farmers and crofters struggling with equipment which has still to be proved reliable will not be penalised for mistakes the equipment causes. But officials operating the scheme must comply with the spirit of that answer.

“I am pleased too that the minister says that he intends to keep pushing for a more proportionate penalty regime. But I am disappointed that he won’t come out in full support of the European Parliament agriculture committee’s three-year amnesty proposal.

“The minister’s department is pursuing the penalty regime on crofters very hard indeed. I’ve had a number of Shetland producers raise with me the aggressive approach being taken by the department. So Mr Lochhead’s warm words need to translate into a complete change of approach and attitude by his department.”


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.