RPA have reported the proportion of cattle movements reported electronically to BCMS has hit record highs for two consecutive months. December saw a record 95% of movements reported electronically either through CTS Online, CTS Web Services or the CTS Self-Service Line. This represented an increase of 17% over reporting in December 2010. However the record high didn’t last long as in January 95.49% of cattle movements were reported electronically.
With such a small proportion of cattle movements being reported using paper forms (Only 10% of births too) it does raise the question might it worth stopping the paper form method and force 100% electronic reporting by farmers?
There are now several different methods of electronic reporting through the Internet, telephone or farm software. This gives the farmer a choice of services to meet their needs with the minimum requirement being a telephone. In addition farm software packages can reduce the duplication of record keeping and reporting. Electronic record keeping would help to reduce RPA costs, reduce farmers costs and improve the reliability of reporting (we won’t get into the Royal Mail’s reliability).
There does appear to be a strong case for compulsary electronic reporting, however not everyone has confidence in the technology and it is important that all farmers have confidence in how the system works. Also it seems doubtful in the current financial climate that any reduction in operating costs, once the need to process the paper forms is gone, will result in any benefit to the farming community.
While we are strong advocates of electronic reporting we would suggest that even higher proportions of farmers need to voluntarily use electronic methods before it should be made compulsory.