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Written Statement - EIDCymru: Wales electronic sheep and goat movement reporting system

Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food

I am very pleased to inform Members that EIDCymru, the new electronic sheep movement reporting system for Wales, was successfully launched on schedule on Monday 18 January.

EIDCymru represents a significant investment of £2.2m by the Welsh Government to provide the farming industry in Wales with a modern and robust movement reporting and traceability system for sheep.

This investment provides another safeguard against the scale and significant cost of diseases of the type we faced in 2001 with the foot and mouth disease outbreak. EIDCymru also enables keepers to report sheep and goat movements efficiently and will contribute significantly to the further development of modern and professional agricultural businesses, delivering on the important objectives sought from the Strategic Framework for Agriculture in Wales.

I have taken a strategic, step by step approach to the implementation of the system in Wales. Changes to the tagging options to identify lambs intended for slaughter were announced back in 2014 to allow farmers adequate time to prepare and make use of existing stocks of the non-electronic slaughter tags. The change harmonises the operation of the slaughter lamb derogation arrangements in place across Great Britain, and underpins e-reporting and improved compliance. Since November 2015, EIDCymru has been available to high throughput establishments to ensure the best possible outcome from day one. I fully recognise the importance of cross border trade and I have ensured that our system will transfer and accept data with similar systems now operating in England and Scotland.

It is essential that EIDCymru provides a platform that is accessible and easy to use by farmers whilst also meeting European regulations. I am therefore grateful to the farmers who have contributed to the development of the system and to the Livestock Identification Advisory Group which has worked closely with my officials. Their positive engagement and innovative suggestions will continue to be used to improve the system as we introduce further functions such as the electronic flock register, agent access and links to existing on farm management software systems to transfer data directly into EIDCymru.

Sheep keepers are using the electronic system to report movements of their animals, but some will continue to use the paper movement licence. Practical support is being provided by EIDCymru in conjunction with the Farming Connect programme which includes clear guidance, local evening meetings and demonstration days where farmers will be able to access the new system and receive hands-on training. My officials will also continue to work closely with stakeholders to ensure that they support farmers to maximise the opportunities presented from this move to further on-line services.

EIDCymru is now live and, with the assistance of the agricultural industry in Wales, support from the EIDCymru service and Farming Connect, I am keen to see the numbers of farmers using the electronic system grow quickly.

The wider benefits of an electronic system in terms of on farm efficiencies, improved links within the industry and the wider support for Welsh Lamb are there to be developed and maximised. This is precisely what is needed if we are to realise our shared vision and ambition of a modern, professional, sustainable and profitable agriculture industry in Wales.