Electronic reporting system for sheep available to UK farmers from April 1

Farmers will have the choice of reporting sheep movements using a new electronic movement reporting system for sheep from April 1

A farmer with his flock of sheep
A farmer with his flock of sheep

In line with a recommendation of the Farming Regulation Task Force, farmers will have the choice of reporting sheep movements using a new electronic movement reporting system for sheep plus goats and deer from April 1.

Defra have awarded a contract to deliver the service to SouthWestern Business Process Services (UK) Ltd, a company originating in Ireland with extensive experience in providing animal traceability and farm quality assurance solutions, and in transitioning paper to electronic systems.

The database used by SouthWestern will be a version of one used by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland. SouthWestern and their IT partners, AMT-Sybex, are currently developing the system to meet a specification developed by Defra in consultation with industry bodies.

Online movements: Farmers who wish to create movements electronically will be able to register an account on the SouthWestern system. This will allow them to set up a movement (such as farm-farm, farm-abattoir) online. A pre-populated movement document will then be printed, to accompany the animals during transport. If the receiving keeper is also registered on SouthWestern’s system, they will be able to confirm receipt of the movement through an online portal.

Online Flock Register: The system will provide a voluntary online flock register for farmers who use the e-reporting service. This will be free of charge. Creating an ‘off’ movement or confirming receipt of an ‘on’ movement will automatically update that SouthWestern online flock register.

For those farmers who already have a Farm Management Package (FMP), they can either continue to use their FMP for creating movement documents or they will have the option of linking their FMP to SouthWestern’s system and thereby ensuring that the movements are created electronically. Similarly if they confirm receipt of a movement on their FMP, this will also update SouthWestern’s electronic database.

Paper Movements: For farmers who wish to continue reporting sheep movements on paper, SouthWestern will provide a centralised recording service (bureau) based in Milton Keynes. This bureau will take over the paper recording service from every Local Authority in England on April 1, 2014. Therefore rather than posting the current AML1 form to their local authority, farmers will instead post the new movement document to the SouthWestern bureau.

A new sheep movement document is currently being designed. This will be very similar to the current AML1 document with a few minor changes. From April 1, 2014, farmers wishing to complete movements on paper will be required to use this new document. It will continue to be distributed through markets/abattoirs and will also be available (from April 2014) by contacting the SouthWestern offices. Farmers will also have the option of populating a PDF version on-line and printing it out locally or printing out the PDF version unpopulated and populating it by hand.

Markets, Abattoirs, Collection Centres & Assembly Centres: These bodies will be required by law to report all movements electronically to the new database from early 2014. Defra estimate that movements through these premises account for circa 70% of all sheep movements within England. SouthWestern are currently liaising with the relevant software providers regarding the interface requirements necessary to ensure all movements are reported electronically to the database.

Cross-border movements: Work is currently under way with the Scottish and Welsh governments to define processes for handling cross-border movements. Further updates will be provided nearer the time but it is envisaged that farmers will use the same system/processes as they will for all other ‘internal’ based movements.

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