EIDCymru splits opinion
Published:  14 January, 2016

A new electronic sheep movement reporting system, EIDCymru, is set to go live in Wales as of Monday, 18 January 2016, although not everybody in the industry is convinced about the need for the move. 

At the moment, electronic reporting is not mandatory for Welsh sheep farmers. However, it is due to be made compulsory for livestock markets, collection centres and abattoirs from Monday onwards. It is claimed that EIDCymru will offer a practical and efficient way to report sheep movements, encouraging farmers to track activity.

“EIDCymru will provide the opportunity for keepers in Wales to use the increased level of traceability to develop their business processes,” said John Richards, technical implantation lead at EIDCymru. “It will also provide a modern and robust traceability system to enable a quick and effective response in any disease outbreak.”

Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has been working alongside the Welsh government to ensure that the EIDCymru system and its customer support service are as simple to use as possible for sheep farmers and businesses.

“The new website – eidcymru.org – is another milestone in the development of an effective electronic identification system for farmers across Wales,” continued Richards. “From Monday, farmers can log on to the EIDCymru site and upload their sheep movements electronically.”

At this stage, there is only one new requirement for sheep farmers – to ensure that paper movement licences (AML1 forms) are now sent to the EIDCymru office in Aberystwyth rather than their local Trading Standards office.

“A helpdesk has been set-up to assist farmers who want to use EIDCymru,” added Richards. “They will provide help and advice relating to the EIDCymru system and the submission of electronic and paper-based information.”

However, this development has not received the full approval of everybody within the industry. Norman Bagley, head of policy at the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), told Meat Trades Journal that he had his doubts.

“The authorities will tell you that the traceability will make them better prepared for disease outbreaks,” he explained. “I would only go as far as to say that this has yet to be proven.

“At the end of the day, the problem in disease situations is illegal movements and this will do nothing to change that. If they think there are benefits and if, over time, they have demonstrated there are benefits, then fair enough. But at the moment the jury would be out on that.

“I don’t see any inherent benefit,” he continued. “There is no benefits in terms of public health because it doesn’t have an effect on that, so therefore animal disease is the only potential long-term benefit, but it is yet to be proven whether it will make any significant difference in a disease outbreak, so we’ll have to wait and see.”