Following a high number of telephone calls from members farming in England and concerned they don’t fully understand the changes to sheep movement reporting that came into force in England at the beginning of the month, the National Sheep Association (NSA) says there is no need to panic.
Communications manager Joanne Briggs said: “The good news is that the compulsory changes are slight and the more complicated changes are optional.”
The changes are the result of a new electronic database being introduced by Defra in England for reporting sheep movements, but while it is compulsory for auction markets, collection centres and abattoirs to report electronically, farmers have the choice to stick with the paper system if they do not feel ready to embrace online reporting.
Mrs Briggs continued: “The only real change is that the old AML1 form has been replaced with a new ARAMS1 form.
“The ARAMS1 is virtually identical so you should have no problem filling it out, but be aware that you need to post or fax it, not to your local authority but to SouthWestern, the company delivering the new electronic database on behalf of Defra.
“Contact details are on the new form, which you can pick up from markets, abattoirs, collection/assembly centres, your local authority and shows.
“If you mistakenly fill out an old AML1 form, SouthWestern will still accept them for the time being.
“Local authorities have also agreed to send on any forms sent to them in error, although this will delay the movement being officially reported.
“If you make an error on the ARAMS1 form, this will not stop the movement going ahead, but you will be contacted by SouthWestern if, for example, the CPH number is wrong or you’ve forgotten to sign the form.
“SouthWestern’s office at Milton Keynes will contact you by telephone, email and/or letter to remedy an error and, only as a last resort, refer it to the local authority.
NSA understands such a referral will not automatically trigger a cross-compliance penalty, as incorrectly reporting a movement is not an offence.
“The only document that needs to be correct for cross-compliance purposes is your holding register, so it is important this is up to date and correct should you receive an inspection.
“A holding register that can be automatically updated by the electronic database is one option on offer to farmers who chose to report electronically rather than on paper.
“You can find out more about this and have a look around the SouthWestern website, with no obligation to commit to online reporting, by opening an account at www.arams.co.uk.”
NSA has provided a summary of the changes:
You must swap from the old AML1 form to the new ARAMS form and send it to SouthWestern instead of your local authority.
You are encouraged to check that your local AHVLA office has the correct name, address, postcode and CPHs(s) for you, and that those CPHs are registered for sheep.
You can choose to register an online account and report movements electronically.
Mrs Briggs said: “NSA remains disappointed that Defra has decided to remove the non-EID slaughter option for English farmers, but this change does not come in until January 1, 2015.
You can continue to use non-EID tags until this date as Defra has accepted there will be a transition period during 2015 when not all lambs are yet electronically identified.”
The official Defra guidance was posted to all registered sheep keepers on March 24.
SouthWestern guidance can be viewed at www.arams.co.uk, while the SouthWestern helpline is available from 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday on 08445 730137.
NSA members can also contact NSA for additional assistance on 01684 892661 or the members-only area of www.nationalsheep.org.uk