The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) has raised its concerns regarding proposed changes to the registration and reporting of livestock movement.
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In its response to the Welsh Government's 'Changes to Livestock Identification, Registration and Movement Reporting Consultation', the Union highlighted numerous areas where the proposals would lead to increases in costs and bureaucracy for farmers.
"These come at a time when the UK is agreeing trade deals with countries such as Australia and New Zealand where such burdens do not come close to what is already required of Welsh farmers, let alone what is proposed," said FUW Deputy President Ian Rickman.
Mr Rickman said the FUW fully recognises and supports the need to trace livestock effectively, but believes some elements of the proposals will add bureaucracy for farmers in an industry already overflowing with red tape.
“Members felt strongly that aspects of the proposals would result in negligible improvements for the traceability of livestock in comparison to the extensive movement reporting system that is already in place across all species, and that the evidence provided to justify the changes was insufficient or absent.”
A particular concern expressed by members related to the proposed mandatory introduction of same day reporting of livestock movements by Central Point Recording Centres (CPRC’s), which include markets, abattoirs and assembly collection centres.
"Such stringent demands would place unacceptable increased pressure and bureaucracy on the important service provided by CPRC’s, and could lead to the industry losing this important service if markets opt out", said Mr Rickman.
"This would mean even more financial and time costs for farmers, many of whom simply don't have access to the technology and internet coverage necessary to fill the gap this would leave," he added.
The Welsh Government's intention to incorporate all livestock movements, registrations and notification into EID Cymru which currently only records sheep movements also raised concerns in terms of the ability of the system to interact with existing farm management databases and multispecies systems currently being developed by other UK administrations something that is seen as essential.
"This is a particular concern for farmers whose land straddles the Wales England border, as they would be required to comply with Welsh and English rules as well as two different recording systems,” said Ian Rickman.
Members however praised the current British Cattle Movement Service’s (BCMS) friendly interface, automated telephone services and bilingual helpline service.
“Overall, we are very concerned about the impracticalities of these proposals. We understand that the Welsh Government wants us to move to an online system but rural Wales is renowned for its poor internet connectivity and this will cause massive inconvenience and possible unfair penalties.
"There are many elements of the current regime which are already more stringent than the EU regulations on which they are based.
"The introduction of further bureaucracy and costs after we have left the EU's regulatory regime and at a time when new trade deals may be about to open the floodgates to foreign produce not subject to anything like the levels of controls we already have would be completely unacceptable," he added. ■