NFUS is urging the Executive to alter the rules for dealing with
late cattle passport applications.
The Union is seeking to address the problems of existing
cattle that don’t have a passport and farmers who face a passport
refusal in future, both of which arise from late applications. NFUS
believes that farmers should have two options in these cases; either
to pay for a DNA test to establish the link between a calf and its
mother or to pay a proportionate fine for late application, both
of which would then allow a passport to be issued.
The points have been made in the Union’s response to the Executive’s
current consultation on changes to cattle identification and passport
Farmers are required to register the birth of cattle with the British
Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), the UK’s central cattle database,
within 27 days of the birth. The penalty for late applications is
severe – no passport is issued, which effectively renders the
animal worthless as it cannot go into the food chain and cannot move
off the farm except direct for slaughter and rendering.
As of last year, following discussions between NFUS and the Scottish
Executive, it was agreed that some discretion may be exercised where
applications arrive with BCMS shortly after the 27-day deadline,
but only if there are clear reasons for the delay that are outwith
the farmer’s control. It is hoped that this will address the
problem of postal delays. However, this does not address the remaining
late applications, nor the cattle currently on farms without a passport,
hence the NFUS call for a change to the rules.
NFUS President John Kinnaird said:
“It is in everyone’s interest to ensure the cattle database
is as comprehensive as possible. The problem of late passport applications
has been a long-running sore point for the industry.
“We had very constructive discussions with Executive officials
last year. We have welcomed the discretion now afforded to BCMS to
consider applications that are delayed for reasons outwith the farmer’s
control. This should address the majority of problems. At that time,
the Executive promised to consult on DNA testing and other measures
to address other cattle without passports; a consultation we have
now responded to.
“For farmers that don’t secure a passport in the required
time or who currently have animals without passports, there should
be a system which involves them either paying for a DNA test or incurring
small fine. That would maintain the incentive to apply on time, but
avoid the huge financial hit on farms that comes with a passport
refusal. Crucially, it would ensure that all cattle are within the
passport control system.”
- Since 2002, the level of applications received by the British
Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) outwith the 27-day window for applying
has fallen year on year.
- The rate of late applications has stabilised
at around 0.6% of total applications. This means that around over
15,000 animals are registered as ‘late’ annually across
- NFUS has had discussions with the British Veterinary Association
in Scotland, which is supportive of the principle of DNA testing,
which could be administered by vets on farm.
- NFUS continues to encourage
farmers to register cattle online at www.bcms.gov.uk
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