Scottish Government has announced that significant changes to Scotland’s system of recording cattle movements are to be introduced at the end of the year.
The controversial and unpopular changes will see an end to the CTS linked holding rules. Currently, keepers can register holdings that they regularly use so cattle movements between these linked holdings do not need to be electronically reported, although they do have to be noted in the farm’s herd register.
The new rules will see all cattle movements in Scotland reported through Scotmoves to an online holding register.
The Union expects that all cattle keepers, including those currently using linked holdings, will be formally notified by Scottish Government of the changes and it welcomes the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing’s reassurance that, given this is a fundamental shift in recording requirements, there will be no financial penalties for any first time breaches for anyone working with the new recording system. That was in response to a specific request from NFU Scotland.
Commenting on the changes, NFU Scotland’s Vice President Andrew McCornick said: “As the industry will be aware, Scottish Government has been looking to end the use of linked holdings since 2007 but intervention by NFU Scotland has secured their continued use until now.
“Many cattle keepers around Scotland will now be concerned about the replacement system, its reliance on figures being accurately recorded on a central database and what that means for potential penalties and cross-compliance.
“We expect details on the new system to be sent to every cattle keeper in Scotland in the near future.
“The Cabinet Secretary’s announcement that penalties will be waived for first time offences is very welcome. Looking further ahead, should the new system be seen to fail or be difficult to comply with, then further consideration on whether penalties are appropriate must be considered.
“The Union has previously written to the Cabinet Secretary asking for leniency and proportionality in the approach to cross compliance. Given that, in some cases, movement information for individual animals may have to be manually inputted into the system, the risk of error increases and the penalty matrix must reflect that.
“NFUS has also written again to Mr Ewing in recent days calling for greater flexibility in the time period in which farmers are required to record cattle movements on the central database. Proposals need to take better account of weekends and delays in updates to the Scottish system from the national CTS. Practical timings for recording movements is needed to ensure farmers doing their best to comply don’t get landed with penalties
“We have also met with members in recent days who, because of the volume of cattle that they work with, will face significant challenges to their business if they are to comply with the new movement recording system. Consideration is needed to ensure large cattle trading businesses are not disproportionately affected.
“While Scottish Government is expected to be contacting all cattle keepers on these important changes, the Union will also be drawing up guidance for our members and we expect to make this available in due course.”