The NFU and National Sheep Association (NSA) met with RPA officials this week to clarify the inspection and penalty process around sheep movements.
Last month, Farmers Guardian reported how many farmers had seen breaches at inspection caused by third party reporting errors into the Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) system.
RPA officials explained while a breach was recorded by the inspector as a preliminary measure, an automatic investigation and validation process was applied to all breaches to ensure farmers were not penalised for errors beyond their control.
A joint NFU/NSA statement said: “We successfully got an agreement from Defra and the RPA that farmers are not responsible for third-party errors. They can help themselves by registering with ARAMS and cross-referencing movements listed with on-farm records. There is no need to electronically report movements to gain access to this function.”
Defra also restated its commitment to rolling out the recommendations of the Macdonald review, which will simplify the system of movement reporting, allowing the farmer to associate land within 10 miles of the main holding from July 1, next year. It will also look to agree a level of tolerance to avoid unfair penalties being applied.
Livestock Auctioneers Association executive secretary Chris Dodds said some of its members had been made to feel they were ‘letting farmers down’, but markets had volunteered to act as Central Point Recording Centres (CPRC), to save farmers from having to invest in their own IT equipment and readers, and were ‘not to be guardians’.
He said there was an increasing issue with markets being unable to read tags on cull ewes which had been in place for several years.
Mr Dodds urged the industry to work together on an assessment of tag readability.