Checks on Animal Identification and Registration Intensified in 2011
The checks on animal identification and registration revealed serious breaches to a larger extent than in previous years. Efficient risk analysis helped focus the checks on holdings which had apparent shortcomings in complying with legislation. It is necessary to carry out checks on animal identification and registration in order to safeguard food safety and to control animal diseases.
A total of 889 holdings were checked in 2011, and 54.3 per cent were found to have shortcomings in animal identification and registration procedures.
Serious breaches were revealed on 132 holdings, meaning 14.8 per cent of the checked amount. Serious breaches include cases where an animal cannot be identified with certainty or its traceability is jeopardized, for instance, an animal which lacks both the ear tags. In 2010 serious breaches were discovered on 12.7 per cent of the checked holdings. 160 holdings had their support payments reduced in 2011.
The steadily increasing amount of serious breaches discovered in the annual checks is explained, in part, by efficient and correctly targeted checks, based on risk analysis. The reinforcement of animal identification and registration legislation does not, in practice, allow any room for interpretation and even minor breaches and errors are recorded.
Minor breaches were discovered on 351 holdings, meaning 39.5 per cent of the checked amount. Minor breaches include negligence which do not jeopardize the traceability or identification of an animal – for instance, one of the ear tags is missing or the animal is registered under an incorrect breed. In 2010 minor breaches were discovered on 35 per cent of the checked holdings.
In bovine animals, sheep and goats, the most common breaches discovered on the holdings related to missing ear tags. Further, a significant part of the breaches related to sheep and goats were linked with out-dated register data. The most common breaches on pig farms in 2011 related to out-dated registers of animals in each separate location as well as reports to the database.
Objective Set at Safe Production Chain
The purpose of animal identification and registration is to allow a means for following animal-based foodstuffs throughout the production chain. Food production must be transparent and products need to be traceable all the way to their origin in order to convince the consumer of food safety. Also in the case of an animal disease, it is vital to know where each animal has stayed so that the ones which are likely to have been infected can be traced and isolated from other animals. The checks on animal identification and registration are carried out on holdings keeping cattle, pigs, sheep and goats. The inspections shall each year cover at least three per cent of holdings in each of the above animal categories.
Non-compliance with animal identification and registration requirements leads to sanctions for the keeper, proportionate to the gravity of the breach. For instance, the sanctions may involve a restriction on movement of an individual animal, all the animals at an individual location or all the cattle of a keeper, by imposing so-called restrictive measures for the said animal/s.
Further, the producer’s support payments may be reduced, in case of breach against cross-compliance. Sanctions relating to cross-compliance will involve reductions in the producer’s direct support payments as well as rural development support payments by the European Union. When determining the reduction percentage, breaches are assessed in terms of intent, extent, severity, permanence, and repetition. As a rule, the support payments are reduced by three per cent.
Controlling animal diseases
Anssi Welling, Senior Inspector, tel. +358-(0)40-489 3361