The cost of implementing sheep and goat EID in just four of the EU’s 27 Member States could total an astonishing £109 million, the Farmers’ Union of Wales revealed today.

The startling figure was disclosed in a report by the Joint Research Centre, the body that advises the EU on technical issues, which compares costings for numerous EID implementation options in the UK, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Spain.

"Even the estimate of the cost of full EID implementation for the UK alone is more than £65 million," said FUW’s hill farming committee chairman Derek Morgan, who represents the union on the Welsh Assembly’s sheep EID group.

"This is a cost that will not be borne by our competitors from outside the EU and, once again, highlights the completely disproportionate expense of implementing a technology that can have major technical problems associated with it.

"I dread to think what the full costs to the EU sheep industry will be."

Even the cheapest option, which involves market reporting rather than on-farm reporting, would represent a cost of £31.024 million for the UK.

The study, requested by the EU’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Affairs (DG SANCO), involved an economic analysis of EID for different production forms present in the Community from 2010.

The costs of equipment, tagging, and reading were calculated for different implementation options applied in Cyprus, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

The options studied were: full implementation for all animals born after 2009; implementation with a slaughter lamb derogation; full implementation with all movements being reported by markets and slaughterhouses; and options that included EID for animals born before 2010.

The cost of the various options in the UK, which has the largest flock in the EU, ranged between £31 million and £90 million, while costs for the Spanish industry were between £16 million and £55 million.

"This report simply adds to the already overwhelming evidence that shows that the costs of EID are completely disproportionate, while the benefits are negligible, and could actually be negative in the case of a disease outbreak," said Mr Morgan, who has tested EID on his Llangurig sheep farm.

"We are committed to fighting this ridiculous legislation to the bitter end and this is yet more evidence that totally undermines the basis upon which the Council of Ministers has made its decisions.

"However, the industry must also brace itself and start planning on the assumption that it will come in next year, because the majority of Member States are hell bent on ignoring the evidence."