The purpose of vendor declarations (VDs) is to alert buyers to the biosecurity risks of buying sheep, which help these farmers avoid inadvertent introduction of Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD), according to Prof Gareth Bath, convener of the Small-Stock Health Advisory Body.
The principle, once established as standard practice, can be extended to other diseases that can also easily be overlooked at sales level. VDs entail the following:
- It is not the same as a certificate or guarantee.
- It is used in harmony with and supportive of the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 (Act 68 of 2008).
- It must be simple, quick, reliable and easy to understand.
- Answers help achieve this – the more ‘YES’s’, the lower the risk and vice versa.
- Low risk does not mean no risk.
- The form must be completed just once every year, so the year must be prominently displayed.
- The support of breed societies is imperative before launch.
- The support of major auction houses is essential to start implementation.
- Monitoring of sales advertised, reminders to auctioneers and records of use will ensure the progressive implementation of the system.
- In the longer term it will be desirable to make VDs compulsory.
- There should be annual reviews to identify and correct problems that arise. – RPO newsletter