NFU and NSA seek clarity with DEFRA and RPA on sheep inspection fines

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The NFU and NSA have held an urgent meeting with representatives from DEFRA and the RPA to clarify serious member issues being relayed around the inspection and penalty process for sheep movement reporting and recording.

Many livestock farmers have been reporting breaches identified at inspection caused by third party reporting errors into the ARAMS system. RPA officials explained that while a breach is recorded by the inspector as a preliminary measure, an automatic investigation and validation process is applied to all breaches to ensure that farmers are not penalised for errors beyond their control.

The RPA has agreed to clarify and communicate this to farmers, as many farmers feel that under the current system they are deemed guilty until proven innocent and will have to commence a lengthy appeals process.

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, and that 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 re-stated their commitment to rolling out the recommendations of the MacDonald review which will simplify the system of movements reporting allowing the farmer to associate land within 10miles of the main holding from July 1 2016, and exploring the options to agree a level of tolerance to avoid unfair penalties being applied.

“Collectively the NFU and NSA recommend that farmers should take care to ensure information in their movements documents and holdings register match, and that information sent on to ARAMS on their behalf is checked for accuracy.”

The meeting was attended by the NFU’s Charles Sercombe, John Royle and Tom Fullick, along with Phil Stocker and Bryan Griffiths from the NSA.