Inspections of animal marking and registration reveal an increase in shortcomings
In 2012, a total of 777 control visits were made to farms. Shortcomings in the marking and registration of animals were found on approximately 47 per cent of these farms. In 2011, the corresponding figure was 54.4 per cent.
Serious failings were detected on 124 farms, i.e. on 16 per cent of the inspected farms. Cases where an animal cannot be identified with certainty or it is not possible to trace an animal, for example because of missing ear tags, are classed as serious failings. In 2011, serious failings were found on 14.8 per cent of the inspected farms. The percentage of serious failings has grown steadily from 2009, when around 10 per cent of the inspected farms showed serious failings.
Minor shortcomings were detected on 240 farms, i.e. on 30.9 per cent of the inspected farms. Defaults which do not compromise the traceability or identifiability of an animal are considered minor failings. In 2011, minor failings were detected on 39.5 of the inspected farms.
Improved control measures uncover more failings
The ongoing increase in serious failings found each year in the course of control measures is explained partly by the effective and correctly targeted risk-based control. In practical terms, the control of the legality of animal marking and registration does not leave much room for interpretation, since the smallest deficiencies and petty violations are recorded.
In the case of cattle, sheep and goats the most frequent shortcomings on farms related to missing ear tags. A significant proportion of the failings detected with regard to sheep and goats further concerned the updating of a farm’s registration data. On pig farms the most common failings detected in 2012 were connected with the updating of animal lists in the individual locations where the pigs are kept as well as the notices that should be submitted to the register. For several years now the most common failings have remained the same for several years already.
The goal: A safe production chain
The aim of the marking and registration of animals is to enable the tracing of foodstuffs of animal origin throughout the production chain. In order for consumers to be confident of the safety of a product, food production must be transparent, and it must be possible to trace a product right back to its point of origin. Also in an outbreak of an animal disease it is essential that we know the locations where each individual animal has been, in order to be able to trace and separate from the others any potential carriers of the infection. Cattle, pig and sheep and goat farms are targeted for control of marking and registration. No less than three per cent of farms keeping the animal species concerned are controlled annually.
Non-compliance with legislation on the marking and registration of animals results in sanctions for the keeper of the animals. The severity of the sanction depends on the seriousness of the violation. A ban on transfers may be imposed on the keeper, either regarding an individual animal, all the animals in a single location or the entire herd, by making the animals concerned subject to a restrictive injunction.
The producer may also be made the subject of aid sanctions for neglect of cross-compliance. Any sanctions concerning cross-compliance will result in a cut of all EU direct agricultural aid that is payable to the farmer concerned as well as rural development aid. When assessing the percentage of a sanction for neglect of cross-compliance, the extent, seriousness, permanence and frequency of the non-compliance will be taken into account. A three per cent cut in aid is the standard sanction for neglect of cross-compliance.
Anssi Welling, Senior Inspector, tel. +358 40 489 3361