The National Sheep Association (NSA) has welcomed new movement reporting rules Defra announces simplification changes of livestock movement rules for farmers in England as ‘a step in the right direction’ and urges all sheep keepers to consider how to make the most of them over the coming months. Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: "The move from the five-mile rule to a 10-mile rule will be a huge win for many sheep farmers."Allowing separate holdings to be merged in some scenarios, reducing the reporting and recording burden for moving stock, and removing some of the difficulties created by standstill rules."While solving many of the current complexities, the new system will take time to implement and producers will have to wait to be contacted by Defra/APHA as the changes are rolled out across England by late summer 2017."I urge all sheep keepers to get their head around the changes now. They need to establish if they want to merge holdings, and how this will affect future eartag orders.I’d also urge producers to consider if the new rules for temporary land use affect them."'A step in the right direction' NSA considers the changes to be positive in the main, and is also pleased to see a shorter timeline that originally planned for the changes (12 months instead of two years).This is of particular benefit as Defra has promised a full scale review of the current six-day standstill situation as the next stage of work in cutting red tape for the sector. Mr Stocker adds: "Some individuals may not find all the changes to be of benefit, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for the industry as a whole."The sheep sector is in desperate need of a level of tolerance on EID and movement reporting but work by NSA to push for this has been met with resistance within Defra due to the EU’s unease with certain UK derogations within the legislation."We know Defra has been keen to remove derogations related to sheep identification in pursuit of higher tolerances and, while removing the ability for farmers to batch report moves between different holdings within the same business would have been impractical with the current five-mile rule, removing it once we have the extension to a 10-mile radius in place will negate the need to report individual numbers for the majority of moves."NSA recognises the removal of the batch reporting exemption presents a potentially onerous task for producers who rely on it for longer distance moves, but if it results in tolerances that reduce cross compliance penalties then it may be a price worth paying.”'End to cross compliance penalties' NSA recognises its work on behalf of sheep farmers must continue, to ensure Defra secures the promised tolerances at EU level, and to implement a more proportionate system as a result of the standstill review. Mr Stocker concludes: "The industry needs to see an end to cross compliance penalties related to innocent mistakes."These penalties cause financial hardship as well as anxiety and stress for producers who’ve fallen foul of the system."Overall we still need to be pushing to reduce red tape and burdensome controls overall, but we also need a demonstrable level of disease control and to be able to reasonably comply in order to benefit from CAP funds."