The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) plans to increase online notifications in relation to the identification, registration and movement (IRM) of cattle and sheep.
After consulting with industry representatives, the department aims to introduce a phased withdrawal of IRM paper documents, starting with the removal of MC1s from May 2018, after the peak calving period.
In addition, MC2s for farm-to-farm and market-to-farm moves will be withdrawn in November/December 2018. This is when the required IRM functionalities are expected to go live on the new NIFAIS system, which will replace the current APHIS database.
Cattle and sheep moves to abattoirs/markets will continue to be notified on existing MC2s and SG2s respectively. No date has been considered yet for the removal of SG2s as a method for notifying farm-to-farm sheep moves. This is because the electronic notification of sheep movements will be dependent on further enhanced NIFAIS functionalities, which are planned to be available sometime in 2019. More updates on the withdrawal dates of MC2s and SG2s for the above moves will be provided nearer the time.
Commenting on the changes a DAERA spokesperson said: “The department is committed to ensuring that its services and products meet the needs and demands of the agri-food industry. The APHIS online system provides farmers access to digital transactions that can be completed without the need for paper forms. It is used to notify almost 350,000 calf births per year in Northern Ireland, which is 67% of the total births.
“To ensure that a gradual move to the new 24/7 online system will result in minimum disruption for farmers, the department is working on measures which include one to one support through DAERA Direct offices.”
To help farmers adjust to the new arrangements DAERA intends to put the following support measures in place:
Additional resource will be made available to the current MC1 telephony system to allow farmers to register bovine births and deaths by phone;
Consideration is also being given to expanding the scope of the telephony system to also allow cattle and sheep movements to be notified by phone;
One-to-one digital assistance will be available in the DAERA Direct offices throughout 2018 to help farmers complete online notifications;
CAFRE will continue to deliver APHIS Online training to farmers and family members;
Forthcoming enhancements to APHIS Online will be incorporated into the new NIFAIS system to improve and simplify the online process.
Farmers are reminded of the importance of ensuring the accuracy of the information they provide when notifying cattle births. Providing correct information at this stage helps ensure that no inaccuracies are discovered later in an animal’s life. Any inaccuracies can result in the application of statuses which may restrict an animal’s movement or acceptability for slaughter for human consumption.
Particular care should also be taken when confirming purchased animals into the herd. Farmers should carefully check the identity of each purchased animal by reading the identification number on the two leaves of each of its tags. If there is any difference between the identification number recorded on the movement document (paper or electronic) which is received, and the numbers in the animal’s ears, farmers must inform DAERA so this can be investigated and corrected.
Also, a check is required to ensure that the animal received matches the description on the movement document. If any differences are detected farmers should contact their local DAERA office.
All of these actions help to prevent animals having restrictive statuses applied and contribute to ensuring the robust traceability on which trade in livestock and livestock products depends.
For information about your DAERA Direct Regional office, visit the DAERA website: https://www.daera-ni.gov.uk/contacts/daera-direct-regional-offices