SIR, The June 22 article, Union calls for UHF rollout, included lengthy quotes from an ALIDMA spokesperson, making various assertions that need to be challenged.

First, rather than ALIDMA members being excluded, there has – since the international conference held at Dingwall Mart in 2012 – been an open invitation to any manufacturer of tags or readers from the UK or abroad to work with ScotEID on developing UHF technology in Scotland. Some accepted the invitation earlier and with more enthusiasm than others.

Second, whilst not a well-known brand in the UK, one of the non-ALIDMA suppliers of UHF tags is a large global tag manufacturer with ample capacity. Moreover, they have a refreshingly market-oriented approach, seeking to innovate and meet user needs. Other suppliers would be expected to enter the market if UHF becomes mandated, enhancing rather than dampening competition.

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Third, approved UHF tags are not inferior to LF tags. All UK official tags must undergo and pass a suite of tests relating to various quality aspects, including durability and retention. This process is overseen by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on a UK basis with the tests being carried out by the British Standards Institute (BSI). Only tags that have undergone and passed this process can bear the PAS 44 mark that identifies them as an official approved tag.

Fourth, ScotEID has no commercial interests in any tags or readers, whether LF or UHF, and is motivated purely by trying to improve traceability in a manner compatible with the interests of farmers and crofters, marts and abattoirs. This approach has underpinned extensive field testing of both LF and UHF technology over the past decade in partnership with users across the supply-chain. Similar positive results for UHF have been shown in other countries, including France, New Zealand and the USA.

Fifth, the fact that LF-EID dominates globally does not reflect technical merit but merely its earlier emergence and the slowness of governments in reacting to the availability of a better alternative (other sectors have moved more quickly to embrace UHF).

Sixth, UHF does have ISO standards – ISO6881 for encoding and ISO18000-6C for air interface communications. It is not clear why replicating LF standards is necessary or desirable given that the context for UHF is different. Specifically, whereas LF is used primarily for animals, UHF is widely used across the global economy and a competitive market has proven effective at meeting user needs whilst reducing costs and driving innovation.

Having been through the process for sheep-EID, ScotEID well recognises the challenges of introducing bovine EID. To that end, we welcome constructive criticism and suggestions for moving things forward but regrettably have to counter these types of ill-founded assertions with tiresome regularity.

Scott McDowell, General manager, ScotEID