EUCAS frequently asked questions
1. Information on EUCAS
1.1. Why do we need EUCAS for the European Union?
The European Union will not accept Australian beef unless we meet certain production requirements. These requirements include:
- individual animal identification for trace-back of cattle slaughtered for the EU market
- the beef is from cattle that have not been treated with Hormonal Growth Promotants (HGPs).
The European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS) addresses these concerns.
1.2. What do I have to do to meet the requirements?
Farms, feedlots and saleyards must become accredited to participate in EUCAS. Entry into EUCAS is by way of an application form PDF [277 KB]. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment administers the accreditation arrangements.
EUCAS requires accredited farms to:
- have only HGP free cattle on their property at all times (with the exception of breeding bulls)
- only purchase and sell cattle from other accredited properties and saleyards (with the exception of approved non-EU breeding females and bulls)
- use the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) to identify and trace scheme cattle movements
- use European Union Vendor Declaration (EUVD) forms and specific scheme transaction tail tags to identify scheme cattle that are being moved.
EUCAS allows accredited feedlots and saleyards to have HGP-free and HGP-treated cattle on their premises, however, they must have management plans in place to ensure that EUCAS cattle are segregated from non-EU cattle at all times.
1.3. How do I become accredited?
To gain accreditation, the manager responsible for the cattle must fill out an application form. For feedlots and saleyards, a management plan must also be attached to the application.
Application forms are available from the department by phoning 1800 305 544 Monday to Friday 8am-4pm.
Before an application for farm accreditation can be approved, you must meet certain conditions of accreditation:
- You must not use HGPs on the farm you intend to obtain accreditation for.
- If you have used HGPs on the farm you intend to obtain accreditation for within the past two years, you must:
- Remove all the cattle that have been treated with HGPs from the farm you intend to obtain accreditation for
- Surrender all unused doses of HGPs to the HGP retailer or wholesaler where you bought them
- Have records that prove these things have occurred.
- You must have only HGP-free cattle on the farm you are obtaining accreditation for at the time of accreditation. Cattle introduced to your property after 30 June 2000 must have come from an accredited property and be properly NLIS identified.
- You must have records that prove your cattle are HGP-free.
For feedlots and saleyards, approval for accreditation is granted after an audit process that ensures your management plan is workable and meets EUCAS requirements.
The manager who signs the application form for accreditation takes full responsibility for meeting all the conditions of accreditation. If these conditions are not met, the manager may face penalties and imprisonment.
1.4. Do I have to be able to prove that I have no HGP treated cattle on my property?
Yes. While accredited, a farm manager must not:
- use HGPs on cattle on the property at any time
- have HGP treated cattle on the farm at any time.
The only exception is that breeding bulls do not have to be HGP-free; however, they will not be able to be slaughtered for the EU market.
Accredited feedlots and accredited saleyards are allowed to have HGP treated cattle on their premises; however, they must have stringent procedures in place to ensure these cattle are segregated from EUCAS cattle.
1.5. What will I have to do to prove that I have no HGP treated cattle on my property?
For farms, you must have records that prove the cattle on your property are HGP-free.
If you have used HGPs in the past, you must have farm records that show how you disposed of the HGP-treated cattle.
If you have brought in cattle from other properties, you must have records that show the HGP-free status of the cattle. For cattle introduced on or before 30 June 2000, these records may be an NVD or an EUVD, an H7 form, a stock agents invoice endorsed to say that the cattle are HGP-free, or for bobby calves, purchase dockets or other record showing the age of the animal when purchased.
For cattle introduced after 30 June 2000, the records must include a EUVD or NVD proving that the cattle came from an accredited property or saleyard. These cattle must have been identified and the NLIS database notified of their movement to your property.
Once accredited, you must only purchase cattle from other accredited properties or accredited saleyards and these cattle must be designated as EUCAS cattle at the time of purchase.
For all cattle on your property, you must individually identify them in accordance with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).
1.6. What if I have cattle that I am not sure about and I don’t have a record?
For farms, you will be required to dispose of these animals. Once all cattle of unknown HGP status are removed from your farm, you will be able to apply for accreditation.
For feedlots and saleyards, cattle of unknown HGP status must be handled as non-EU cattle.
1.7. What declarations do I have to make?
There are two types of legally binding declarations to be completed. These are:
- The Application Form PDF [277 KB]
- The European Union Vendor Declaration (EUVD)
The EUVD must be completed when moving cattle to another accredited property or accredited saleyard, or to an EU listed abattoir.
1.8. What checks are made on these declarations?
The department will check that you have completed all sections on the application form correctly.
Feedlots and saleyards will also be audited before approval is granted for accreditation. They will also be audited annually.
During the course of their accreditation, farms will be subjected to random audits.
Audits may be conducted by State or Commonwealth officials, or officials of the European Union Commission.
1.9. What happens if I fail an audit?
Failing an audit means that you have not complied with one or more of the conditions of accreditation, or have made false/misleading declarations.
Non-compliance is a serious matter because it means that either your cattle cannot be traced properly in the event of a disease or residue problem or cannot be guaranteed HGP-free for the purposes of the EU market. Should HGP-treated cattle find their way into this market, there could be serious commercial and trade consequences.
If an audit finds that a manager has not complied with EUCAS conditions, the farm, feedlot or saleyard may have its accreditation revoked and the manager may face legal prosecution.
2.1. What tags will I be required to use?
You will be required to use NLIS endorsed Breeder or Post-breeder tags and a EUCAS transaction tail tag to identify and trace cattle movements.
NLIS endorsed ear tags are colour coded as follows:
- White Breeder tags are used to identify all cattle born on the property they are on at the time of identification.
- Orange Post breeder tags are used to identify cattle that were not born on the property they are on at the time of identification, and that do not have a white Breeder tag attached.
Note: A EU transaction tail tag is coloured lime green, so EUCAS cattle can be visually distinguished from other cattle.
3. NLIS Database
3.1. How do I access the NLIS database and enter details of my cattle onto it?
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) website gives step by step instructions on how to use the NLIS database.
If you require assistance, please contact the Database Administrator at MLA on:
Telephone number: 1800 654 743
Facsimile number: 02 9463 9100
3.2. What if I don’t enter the data into the NLIS database?
If you do not enter the required data, you will be in breach of your conditions of accreditation. Your accreditation may be revoked, and as the Manager, you may face legal penalties or fines.
If you do not have direct access to the NLIS database through a computer system, you should authorise an agent to notify the NLIS database on your behalf. Otherwise, there are restrictions to your participation in EUCAS. An Access Authority form can be obtained from the NLIS Database Administrator.
Without direct access to the NLIS database, you can fax or post the notification to the database for consignments of up to 20 animals. You must use a Livestock Transfer Information form that can be obtained from the NLIS Database Administrator. If you consign more than 20 animals and you do not have Internet access to the NLIS database, you must arrange for someone to enter the information for you.
Feedlots and saleyards are required to have direct access to the NLIS database, along with appropriate reading equipment.
3.3. There seems to be a lot of work involved in EUCAS. Why do I have to do all this?
Participation in EUCAS is voluntary. Many producers see commercial incentives for being accredited and have therefore chosen to do so. If you choose to be accredited in order to meet the EU requirements, it is essential that Australia is able to trace any meat produced for this market from the carton back to its property of origin, including all the properties the animal may have been on during its life.
Following extensive consultation between the department and industry, it has been decided the most effective way to do this is through the NLIS database. Similar systems are being developed and implemented in other major beef producing countries around the world.
4.1. I have heard that I can only bring cattle from EUCAS accredited properties onto my property. Does this mean that I will no longer be able to agist cattle from properties that are not EU accredited?
Yes, this is correct. You will only be able to have cattle on your property that meet the conditions of accreditation, which means that you won’t be able to have cattle from non-accredited properties agisted on your property. If you choose to agist on accredited properties the farm manager at the agistment property will need to notify the NLIS database of the cattle movements on introduction and you will need to notify the NLIS database of the cattle movements on their return.
4.2. Can cattle I have sent to agistment on non-accredited properties return to my property?
No. Once cattle have moved to a non-accredited property they are deemed to have left the Scheme and are not allowed back in. Therefore, if you wish to agist your Scheme cattle, this will have to be done on accredited properties only.
5. Other markets
5.1. Are my sales to other (non EU) markets affected?
You will still be able to sell EUCAS cattle to non-accredited properties and to abattoirs that are not EU-listed. You will still be able to sell cattle to markets that do not require HGP-free beef. However, once your cattle have left EUCAS, they will not be allowed to regain their status as EU-eligible.
Also, you are required to notify the NLIS database if you sell EUCAS cattle to non-accredited properties or through non-accredited saleyards and to non-EU listed abattoirs.
6.1. Will I be able to sell EUCAS cattle through saleyards?
Yes. However, if you wish your cattle to retain their status as EU eligible you must ensure that the saleyard is accredited and that the cattle are consigned to be sold through a Scheme cattle sale.
7. Loss of Accreditation
7.1. How do I lose my accreditation?
If at an audit you are found to have done something that is contrary to your declarations on your application form PDF [277 KB] or your European Union National Vendor Declaration forms, you can have your accreditation revoked and you may be liable for legal penalties for making false declarations.
For this reason, it is very important that you consider your application carefully; only apply if you can fulfil all of the conditions. If you have any doubts, contact the department on 1800 305 544, Monday to Friday, 8am-4pm.
7.2. Once accredited, can I choose in the future not to be accredited?
Yes, but you must notify the department in writing of your wish to be removed from the register before you do anything that is contrary to the conditions within EUCAS.
8. Further information
Please contact the EUCAS Helpline Monday to Friday 8am - 4pm on 1800 305 544 for information regarding the EU rules, accreditation, change of management etc. For help with the NLIS database, information on EU Vendor Declaration books and ordering NLIS devices, please phone the NLIS Helpline on 1800 654 743.