UFU calls for public consultation

Thursday, 22 February, 2018

The Ulster Farmers’ Union recently met with DAERA to discuss the department’s proposals for the phased withdrawal of paper registration and movement documents for livestock.

Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president Victor Chestnutt says, “It is important that DAERA provides a comprehensive service to assist farmers with meeting their legislative requirements for the traceability of livestock. While the UFU understands the resource pressures the department is facing and their wish for farmers to use more online and telephone services, we do not accept DAERA’s proposals to remove the service for accepting paper registration and movement documents for livestock,” says Mr Chestnutt.

Almost 30% of cattle registrations are currently completed on paper. This represents approximately 160,000 birth notifications per annum.

“While we are supportive of the promotion and development of online services, DAERA’s target to move all farmers who use paper registrations onto online or telephony services by May 2018 is much too ambitious and does not take into account any of the practical or equality considerations this would involve. There are difficulties in rural areas with access to broadband. Furthermore, there is an ageing population of farmers in Northern Ireland, many of whom are not computer literate. If farmers are not computer literate, paper is an option they are confident with and this is very important given the serious risks that surround inaccurate traceability information with livestock,” continues the UFU deputy president.

 “We are calling on DAERA for a formal consultation and equality impact assessment on this matter, before this proposal, which is not fair or proportionate goes any further,” says Mr Chestnutt.

The UFU will continue to monitor the situation.