Farmers in England will be free to move livestock between holdings they own or rent within a 10-mile radius without triggering standstills or reporting requirements under a simplification of the current overly-bureaucratic movement rules.
The changes, announced on Tuesday by Farming Minister George Eustice after originally being recommended in Richard Macdonald’s 2011 red tape review, will be phased in over the next year.
They includes a new system for registering land on which livestock are kept, which will be run jointly by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Rural Payments Agency (RPA)
It will improve information about animal movements and land being used for livestock production, important for helping prevent and control diseases, Defra said.
Under the existing regime, many farmers are required to report livestock movements to any other land they own or rent beyond a five-mile radius of their home farm.
The reporting automatically triggers the six-day standstill, during which no animals can be moved.
This is part of a raft of different rules for sheep, cattle and pigs under a complicated web of schemes, including the Cattle Tracing System Links and Sole Occupancy Authorities.
Defra said the new scheme would replace this ’complicated bureaucracy’.
All farmers will be able to move their animals around any land they have registered and are using within a 10-mile radius without the need for reporting, or standstills.
Reporting and standstill requirements for livestock movements to other farms or businesses will continue to apply, however.
More details about the new measures can be seen here
Announcing the change, Mr Eustice said: "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 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 containing and eliminating it."
NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe welcomed the announcement.
He said: "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."
“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.
The RPA’s Arik Dondi said: “The RPA welcomes this move as it will rationalise and simplify the process for farmers and keepers.
"This shows that we have listened to the farming industry and responded with a system that’s easier to use and more effective.”
APHA’s veterinary director Simon Hall said: “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 control measures due to the improved livestock location data we will be collecting.”
Livestock farmers will receive guidance about the rule changes from next month.
The new rules apply in England only and affect cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.