In the snail mail post this morning came a missive from SVS, putting our SW Matt's herd under restriction.
Now this is a little odd, as our Matt 5, has tested his cattle - as instructed, and on time - and had a clear test. He even has a 'withdrawal of restriction' notice from SVS, a TB 10 form served just two weeks ago, and yet here, giving him indigestion as he ate his breakfast, was another movement restriction notice.
We are often asked on this site why so many farmers are (allegedly) under restriction "due to an overdue test" etc. And we have checked with LVIs and SVS and been told that in the main this is a time lag of paperwork logging into the main computer. Very, very few herds are genuinely refusing to test their cattle on time, and if they did, we understand that they would be in breach of Cross compliance for the Single Farm Payment.
We are most grateful for sight of an SVS TB 2 Update missive recently sent to veterinary surgeons, which describes just this point concerning compliance Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs):
"SMRs comprise a selected number of Articles from 19 EU Directives and Regulations( is that all? - ed) which are applicable to farmers. [ these] ... cover objectives in the areas of environment, public, plant and animal health ... "
"Few food bourne zoonoses have clear statutory obligations, but TB is one of those that does and the inspectorate for this SMR thus ensure that both the statutory surveillance test and pre-movement test (preMT) (if required) are up-to-date."
The paper goes on the describe circumstances where both tests have thresholds built in before a farmer will suffer deductions from his SFP for non compliance with 'up to date test, nevertheless, the clearance of bTB is, as the paper says, a 'Statutory obligation' under several EU directives.
Well that's the test bit sorted as far farmers are concerned - but what about Defra's part in the 'Statutory Obligation' to protect public and (all) animal health following on from the results of said test? We fully expect another committee will fit the bill.
Anyway, to return to Matt's case. What's gone wrong? Cattle tracing appears to be the bug in the system. In August, Matt purchased some pre movement tested pedigree cattle, whose home herd subsequently went down with lesioned reactors. So, the cattle tracing team clanked into action and demanded Matt test these purchased animals. Quite right too, and he did. At his herd test at the end of October. But at this test our Matt had a reactor too. A post movement tested yearling in which tb was not confirmed, so Matt tested again two weeks ago, and the whole herd - including the 8 animals to be traced - were clear.
SVS sent out a TB 10, lifting movement restrictions, but unfortunately 'somebody' forgot to tie in the trace animals - so Matt received a 'You Have Not Tested These Cattle' notice, which prohibited sales from the farm from - er three days ago. Shame that, Matt sold a whole shed load of store cattle the day before yesterday.
No he didn't. Not really.
But we confidently expect Matt's paperwork will show up as a herd 'under restriction for non compliance with Tb testing' on Defra's figures for February 2007 - even though it isn't and his cattle - all of them - have been tested.