Farmers in Wales are being asked for their views on proposed livestock movement changes that would involve a transition to electronic recording to improve animal management and disease control.
The Welsh Government consultation, which closes on 2 January, relates to the registration and movement of sheep, cattle, pigs and goats, in addition to the wider rollout of electronic identification (EID) tags.
Rural affairs minister Lesley Griffiths said more electronic identification and reporting for livestock will improve traceability and efficiency.
But the Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) warned any efforts to improve traceability would be undercut by trade deals with countries producing food to lower standards.
The consultation proposes mandatory whole movement reporting and journey and transport information for all livestock, in addition to voluntary pre-movement reporting, which would be recorded electronically before the animal leaves the holding.
Under the proposals, cattle and pig registration and movements would join sheep, goat and deer on the EIDCymru service.
The intention is to introduce electronic identification for cattle in 2023, meaning after an agreed date all newborn calves would need one of their two tags to be an EID tag.
Views are also being sought on the future identification options for pigs, together with an annual registration of holdings and annual inventory of pigs kept in Wales
There would also be a mandatory requirement for central point recording centres, such as markets and abattoirs, to read EID tags and provide same day reporting for all livestock.
Further amendments include a new Welsh cattle passport and the removal of registration and movement reporting for cattle in paper format.
Online herd and flock registers and a dedicated movement process for show and event livestock would also be introduced to reduce multiple movement reports.
The Welsh Government said it was also working closely with its UK counterparts to make cross-border livestock movements as easy as possible.
FUW said it was receptive to the proposals, but was concerned about increased red tape.
The union’s senior policy officer, Gareth Perry, said: “While we are still consulting with members about it, the initial feedback from committees is that the introduction of cattle EID and use of EIDCymru for keeping cattle data is not opposed.
“However, the proposed increases in red tape very much are – especially when you consider the trade deals being reached with countries with traceability standards that are a joke compared with ours.”
NFU Cymru livestock board chairman Wyn Evans called for better integration with livestock databases across the UK to make cross-border movements easier, and better internet in rural parts of Wales to ensure farmers could use the service.
He said: “It is vitally important to recognise that digital connectivity remains an issue in many parts of rural Wales.
“It is essential that the new livestock database recognises the challenges that this presents for farmers, shows and livestock markets in many parts of Wales.
“We need to ensure that no one is excluded or negatively impacted due to not being able to access this database and report movements as a result of poor connectivity.”