The British Pig Association offers advice on your next steps when it comes to Vet Attestations for livestock owners.

New rules came into force in Great Britain on the 13th of December regarding exports of meat and some animal by-products to the EU.

Why does this matter to me, you might ask? I don’t export. All my meat is sold by the local butcher, or it comes back to my farm shop. The problem is that your abattoir may export bits of your animals that you don’t know about, and if they do, they will need you to have a piece of paper from your vet to say that your farm is not a biosecurity risk. This is called a Vet Attestation, and it will have a unique number called the Vet Attestation Number, referred to as a VAN.

Following strong representations from industry organisations such as Livestock Auctioneers Association, British Pig Association, National Beef Association and National Sheep Association, the government agreed to a soft launch with an implementation period.

So, if this is the first time you have heard about VANs or you don’t have one yet, please read this article carefully and take action. Do not put it off or delay. ACT NOW!

VANs are issued by private vets following a farm visit. The visit need not be specifically to obtain a VAN, and your vet maybe happy to retrospectively issue a VAN if they have been on the farm in recent months. A VAN is not species-specific; if your vet has issued you with a VAN for another species, you can use the same VAN for your. other livestock (as long as the vet was aware you had them on the holding).

If you have a vet visit planned for any other reason, make sure you ask them to issue the Attestation document as part of the visit.

The document will have a Veterinary Attestation Number (VAN) made up of your vet’s practice number, your CPH and the expiry date of the VAN. From the 13th of December, abattoirs and markets may want to have sight of this number to accept your animals.

Industry organisations have been working closely with the Livestock InformationSystem and AHDB to update the movement licensing system to allow the VAN to be added to movement licences so that abattoirs and markets will be able to pick this up electronically. This will cover pig keepers in England and Wales. In Scotland, there will be a slightly different solution from Scot EID.

Most small abattoirs won’t be exporting themselves, but the problem is that they may sell other bits of the animal that you don’t get back. This fifth quarter may end up being exported by another company that will need the paperwork. If your abattoir does not sell these other bits of the animal, for example, if they incinerate it themselves or send it for rendering, they may not need the VAN. If you take animals to a market where they might be bought for slaughter, the buyers may want a VAN.

We urge all keepers to speak to their abattoir as soon as possible and ask the right question. It’s no use just asking, “Do you export?”. You need to ask, “ What happens to the bits of the animal that I don’t get back?”. If they don’t know, then you may need to get an Attestation.

This article extract was taken from the Spring 2024 edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full, you can buy the issue here.

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