Simpler rules for livestock movements

Livestock producers can expect to benefit from simplified rules regarding livestock movements, according to the Department for the Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra). 

The changes were initially recommended by the Task Force on Farming Regulation and form a part of the government’s continuous programme to boost UK food and farming productivity by cutting ‘red tape’ and time spent by farmers filling in forms.

“Farming is a fundamental part of our rural economy, producing food, providing jobs and generating over £100 billion a year for our economy,” said farming minister George Eustice.

“But our farmers often face overly complex rules and regulations. Making it simpler for them to understand what they need to do will help them follow the rules and improve our disease control capability, by ensuring that better information on animal locations is being recorded on Defra’s livestock location database.

“When a disease outbreak occurs, knowing where animals have been is fundamental to Defra’s livestock location database.”

The new system for registering land on which livestock are kept will be run in conjunction with the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Rural Payments Agency (RPA). It will aim to improve information about animal movements and land that is being used for livestock production, which is an important aspect in helping control disease outbreak.

Under the current animal movement regime, some farmers have to report the movement of livestock to any other land they own or rent past a five-mile radius of their home farm. The reporting of this process automatically triggers a six-day lockdown, or ‘standstill’, on the farm, during which no animals can be moved.

There are different rules for sheep, cattle and pigs under a network of schemes, including the Cattle Tracing System Links and Sole Occupancy Authorities.

To be phased in over a 12-month period, the new system will remove any complications and allow farmers to move livestock between registered land within a 10-mile radius without the need for reporting or standstills. However, reporting and standstill requirements for livestock movements to other farms and businesses will continue to apply.

Welcome changes

“I applaud these changes and we believe they have the potential to simplify the holding registration and livestock movement regime, which has been a burden on the livestock industry for many years,” commented Charles Sercombe, chairman of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) livestock board.

“Many of our members have indicated that this is a positive step and should clarify how they manage their businesses on a daily basis, without any loss of traceability and disease control measures.”

Meanwhile, the RPA received this development with open arms: “The RPA welcomes this move as it will rationalise and simplify the process for farmers and keepers,” said Arik Dondi from the agency.

“This shows we have listened to the farming industry and responded with a system that’s easier to use and more effective.”

Simon Hall, veterinary director for APHA, also said the new system would benefit farmers. “These changes will make previously complex rules more clear and will reduce the reporting burden for many livestock-keepers. These new changes will also aid disease prevention and outbreak measures, due to the improved livestock location data we will be collecting.”

Livestock farmers will receive guidance on these changes as of next month.

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