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Union Seeks Solution To Common Penalty Breach

NFU Scotland has put a proposal to Scottish Government that could help Scottish livestock farms comply with the most common regulatory breach, creating the potential to significantly cut the penalty bill imposed on Scottish farmers each year.

Farmers have a responsibility to report the deaths of all cattle on farm and return the dead animal’s passport to authorities.  Upon inspection, failure to have complied with these requirements can result in a penalty being placed on a farmer’s support payment.

In Scotland, last year, official farm inspections by Scottish Government staff identified a total of 359 cross compliance breaches of which 257 were to do with the identification and registration of cattle, including non-return of passports and failure to properly report deaths.

NFU Scotland has sent a proposal to the Scottish Government asking for third parties to be able to report such deaths.   That could allow fallen stock companies – those who collect dead cattle from farms – to provide a service that would also include formally notifying the authorities of the animal’s death.  Taking up such a service could assist a farmer’s compliance with the rules and lower the risk of failing a formal inspection and incurring any associated penalties.

NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller said:

“Traceability of livestock, and the need to report or record animal deaths in some form, is likely to remain a key component of both disease and food safety systems within Europe for the foreseeable future so we need to find a system that works better. 

“It is clear from the number of breaches that occur each year that farmers can struggle to keep on top of the necessary paperwork associated with this.  Under a formal inspection, not notifying the authorities that cattle have died or failure in returning a cattle passport when the animal has died on farm is a major compliance issue that results in fines worth hundreds of thousands of pounds being imposed on Scottish farming support payments each year.

“This is rarely a deliberate oversight but often simply human error. By allowing third parties to report such deaths, we could cut the number of errors made, reduce Scottish farming’s annual cross-compliance penalty bill and improve the robustness of cattle traceability at the same time. 

“It is likely that, in the future, progress will be made towards a passport-free and paper-free cattle registration system.  That will make the electronic reporting of deaths of cattle on farm increasingly important.  Having access to a passive reporting route will help farmers notify deaths accurately and in a timely manner and provide herd managers with a fail safe compliance option.

“We have asked Scottish Government to investigate this form of reporting.  For it to provide a real compliance benefit, it will be essential for inspection protocols to recognise this route of notification and ensure that those producers entering into a third party reporting service contract are spared from any associated cross-compliance penalties.  The additional win for the Scottish Government is that third party reporting of deaths in this manner will also provide a route towards more robust traceability.

“As a start to the process, NFUS has mapped out a proposed reporting system with National Fallen Stock Co (NFSCo) and we believe that a service could be provided.  We now need Scottish Government to deliver its verdict on whether the proposal is acceptable to them, and ultimately acceptable to Europe.

“A third party reporting system for cattle may also open opportunities for similar reporting of sheep losses. Dead sheep present no traceability risk but deaths, when known, need to be recorded in flock records. It may be of significant value to the industry were a similar third party reporting system for sheep deaths to be developed with NFSCo.

“I believe that these proposals, as presented to the Scottish Government, have something to really add to our current systems.  They would benefit traceability, producers, and enforcement and will simplify compliance. We hope Scottish Government sees merit in taking this forward for the benefit of all.” 

Notes to Editors

  • During 2010, a total of 1801 cross compliance related inspections were completed on Scottish farms.   In 2010, these inspections identified a total of 359 cross compliance breaches of which 257 were connected with the identification and registration of cattle governed by Statutory Management Requirement 7 (SMR 7) - Passports not returned to British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) for dead animals is one of the SMR 7 breaches.
  • The total value of cross compliance penalties applied to the 2010 SFPS in Scotland was £472,111.84.  
  • The total value of payments made in Scotland under the 2010 SFPS was £477.5 million.  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 139/11


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