An electronic movement reporting system for sheep cannot operate without accepting a level of tolerance within the system. That is the clear message from NFU Cymru in its response to the Welsh Government’s EID Cymru consultation.EID Reader_275_206
Lyndon Edwards, NFU Cymru’s Livestock Board Chairman said, “It is not possible to operate a system of electronically reading and recording tags and reporting to a central database such as EID Cymru without accepting on occasion that tags will not be read. This must be accepted and farmers must not have to live with the threat of cross compliance penalties hanging over their business as a result of the failure of technology to work with 100% accuracy, 100% of the time, in the practical situations encountered on farms, at markets and at abattoirs. We seek reassurance from Welsh Government that common sense will apply.”
Within the consultation the Welsh Government suggests that movements reported using the electronic route must be notified to EID Cymru within 24 hours of the move being completed. In response NFU Cymru does not support such a tight timeframe being imposed on those farmers who choose to report movements by the electronic route as the perception of this proposal is that keepers are being penalised for being an early adopter of new technology.
Mr Edwards said, “Our membership has expressed concerns that problems with computers, internet connections or other technical issues would leave them exposed to the risk of cross compliance fines for late reporting if there was a requirement to do this within 24 hours. The consultation paper has judged three days to be an adequate time period to report paper movements therefore we firmly believe that all movements should be subject to the same reporting period.”
EID Cymru represents a significant change for the industry in terms of reporting movements of sheep and as such the importance of help, advice and guidance in managing this change cannot be underestimated. NFU Cymru welcomes the Welsh Government’s intention to create a bureau facility which will act as a helpdesk for those keepers who do not report moves electronically or are unable to do so.
On the future use of the slaughter derogation in Wales the NFU Cymru Livestock and LFA Boards felt that due to the amount of cross border trade between Wales and England it would be impractical to operate a separate tagging system on either side of the border.
NFU Cymru Deputy President, John Davies said, “Defra has already made the decision to phase out the non-EID slaughter tag and this decision, in our opinion, makes it difficult for Wales to continue with a separate sheep identification system. With nearly five million individual animal movements into and out of Wales in 2013 a different tagging regime would cause significant problems for border markets, abattoirs, cross border farms and all sales and movements of lambs from Wales to England.”
Mr Davies continued, “This change will increase costs to many sheep keepers in Wales. NFU Cymru can therefore only support this change on the basis that Welsh Government undertakes a number of measures to mitigate the cost impact. These include: allowing a reasonable time period (31 December 2015) for keepers to use up current stocks of tags; the timely implementation of all the livestock movement simplifications identified within the Working Smarter report which includes the introduction of quarantine units for all classes of livestock; and a simplification of the CPH review.
“The Wales Rural Development Plan (RDP) offers a fantastic opportunity to help farmers adapt to the introduction of EID Cymru, to changes to tagging rules and to support farmers who wish to use EID to help with flock management and performance recording. The targeting of RDP resources to support capital investment in EID related equipment on farm would ease the burden associated with these changes and help ensure that farmers are able to invest in relevant infrastructure to the future benefit of their farming business.”
In conclusion Lyndon Edwards said, “The EU regulatory requirement that makes individual recording and reporting a compulsory requirement remains deeply unpopular with farmers. We continue to use every available opportunity to push for a fundamental review of the current EID regulation by working in conjunction with the other UK NFUs, through our dedicated office in Brussels, and with COPA, the European farming organisation. In the short term we believe that there are amendments to the regulation that should be made to ease the burden on sheep keepers. These include the introduction of workable tolerances and a derogation to delay the insertion of the EID tag until the animal leaves the holding of birth.”