Dumfriesshire Farmers told “Don’t Get into a Muddle” on EU Record Keeping


Dumfriesshire farmers have been given some straight-forward advice with regards to EU record keeping – “Keep it simple and don’t get into a muddle.”

The tips were given by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), at a recent meeting of local farmers held at SRUC’s Crichton Royal Farm last week.

The purpose of the gathering was to offer farmers the opportunity to update themselves on what exactly EU inspectors are looking for.

At a time when virtually every product farmers are sending to market is losing money the support payments from Brussels have seldom been more important.  But those CAP funds come with strings or rules attached and failure to comply risks financial penalties.

Helping clarify the so called ‘cross-compliance’ regulations was Dumfries-based Alastair Beattie of SAC Consulting. He said: “Cross-compliance includes a number of requirements relating to the traceability of livestock, particularly cattle and sheep. A lot of that is about record keeping which farmers know about and try hard to maintain.

“But with what are a fairly complex set of requirements, it’s always helpful to have a refresher, so things are up to date – should their farm be randomly selected for the annual inspections the EU requires the Scottish Government to carry out.”

At the workshop session, fellow SAC Consultant Sam Henderson stressed that for both cattle and sheep the most important thing is to make sure that animals are identified properly with ears tagged according to the regulations and that any lost tags are replaced promptly.

Equally vital is the recording of basic information such as when animals are moved on or off the farm, and that all births or deaths and movements are notified to the relevant government department. This information should be detailed, for instance including the identity of a calf’s mother (dam), or the name of the haulier moving sheep.

Alastair Beattie told the audience that failure to record when the death of a sheep was discovered – even if it was below the age when it needed a tag – was just the kind of error inspectors would pick up on.

He said: “On what are often businesses operated by one person or one family this is the kind of thing that can easily get put off. It is understandable, but unless the recording is done straight away it’s easy to get into a muddle.”

Another important area concerns the extra grazing many farmers rent during the season. There are additional rules to follow in these cases including ensuring that ‘Animal Health’ – the government department responsible for livestock health and welfare – are notified and, depending on the type of livestock, accurate records are kept to show the location and movements of individual animals.

Alastair stressed: “The best record keeping systems tend to be the simplest. Computer programmes work really well and offer opportunities to save time in record keeping – but they are only as good as the information put in!

“Farmers are most likely to be successful at record keeping if they use a system they can update easily – there is nothing wrong with using paper record books!”

The farmers were reminded about the helpful checklists which can be found on the SAC Consulting website at www.sruc.ac.uk/homepage/784/cross_compliance


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