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Abolish the legal requirement to submit Animal Movement Documents

Comment 18th August 2010

Movement licences were introduced during the 2001 outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease. No animal was permitted to be moved without a licence. Extra staff had to be employed by Local Authorities to deal with the enormous quantity of paperwork generated. I doubt if these civil servants have ever been laid off and, to keep themselves busy, Movement Documents have not been scrapped.

Anyone moving sheep or goats is required to submit a form, in quadruplicate (yes – really…FOUR copies), to the appropriate Local Authority within three days of the animal movement. I seriously doubt if any use has ever been made of the staggering amount of data that has been collected on sheep and goat movements and I doubt if it ever will.

The fact is that, prior to the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak, animals were moved around freely, without any associated bureaucracy and without any problems. Diseases such as Foot & Mouth will be spread by animal movements but they are not caused by animal movements. Therefore, there is no justification for the government to monitor movements when no disease is present in the country. The refusal of the government to remove this ‘red tape’ is an example of politicians’ mania for absolute control and desire to micro-manage every aspect of the agricultural industry.

Why does this matter?

Abolishing this law is important because:

1. tax payers would no longer have to fund a bunch of bureaucrats to enter futile data into computers.

2. there would be an enormous reduction in wasted paper.

3. farmers would not have to waste so much time filling in forms and rushing to a post box to ensure that the Local Authority receives the forms within three days of any animal movement.

4. because the research findings presented in the paper ‘Farmers, Farm Workers and Work-Related Stress’ by Parry, Barnes, Lindsey & Taylor; prepared by the Policy Studies Institute for the Health and Safety Executive, 2005 clearly show that stress and high suicide levels amongst farmers are linked, primarily, to government legislation, increased bureaucracy, regulations and paperwork.

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