Animal Health and Welfare Policy Manager Penny Johnston's Blog 29 September 2016

Scottish Government’s decision to no longer allow Scottish farmers and crofters to link the holdings on which they will keep cattle, for the purposes of recording movements, is a cause for concern that could lead to problems for many cattle keepers.

Indeed, in the North East, producers have already taken their worries about the changes direct to their MSP.

NFU Scotland has fought against such a change for nine years but Scottish Government will introduce a new cattle movement recording system – ScotMoves – operating through ScotEID in the New Year.  

Such links between holdings for the purposes of recording cattle moves are not permitted under EU legislation and the Scottish Government’s veterinary officials have been resolutely against such links being permitted because of concerns over traceability of animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak.

In a bid to strike a compromise, NFU Scotland sought to introduce a system to mitigate some of the problems caused by linked holdings, including asking that a system similar to that proposed within England be introduced.  The English movement system permits associations between holdings that are within 10 miles of a main holding but regrettably this, or similar systems, were rejected by Scottish Government.

Scottish Government, in consultation with NFUS and other stakeholders, has instead developed a new reporting system – ScotMoves - to be used for reporting within business moves of cattle as an optional alternative to reporting these moves through the British Cattle Movement Service’s Cattle Tracing System (CTS).  

The new system addresses some of the concerns relating to additional movements appearing on passports and ease of reporting but disappointingly there remain issues surrounding the timing of reporting and potential for cross compliance penalties.

The original time frame Scottish Government was going to permit for reporting moves was 36 hours and NFUS did succeed in getting this extended to 48 hours but we still believe this will cause problems for some, placing them at risk of cross compliance breaches if inspected.

We have written to the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing twice in recent weeks asking for support in addressing cross compliance concerns and on the need for the reporting period to be extended from 48 hours to 72 hours.

The Cabinet Secretary has accepted that, in the first year of operation, the new system throws up the potential for accidental errors as farmers try to get to grips with the changes and has indicated that no penalties will be attached to initial breaches.

Disappointingly, Scottish Government has not accepted our case to extend the reporting period to 72 hours and is sticking to a maximum of 48 hours.  That creates the potential for problems over weekends where keepers rely on office staff to report their movements and if the CTS system fails to update the ScotMoves records within the 48-hour timeframe.
There are different options available for how farmers will be able to report cattle moves to linked holdings using ScotMoves and we have got agreement that allows either the movement document or sales receipt to be used as the mechanism for reporting such movements.

When a farmer has bought cattle, they can simply scan either the sales receipt or the movement document and fax/email it to ScotMoves with the details of where the animals were moved to (if this is not the main holding).  Receipt of this information counts as notification of the move and so as long as they receive the information within 48 hours you are compliant.

Not ideal, but NFUS remains committed to finding workable solutions to a system that Scottish Government is determined to introduce.

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