30 June 2000

Animal database launch

AMBITIOUS plans by auctioneers to set up a database giving a detailed history of each animals life have been welcomed by buyers.

But farmers could face extra paperwork and calls for more on-farm inspection.

The launch of farmstock.net at this weeks Beef 2000 at Chatsworth, Derbys aims to pull together all information demanded from farms. Initially by physically transferring information, but eventually using software provided free to producers, an animals details will be logged on the system. This can then be used to attract buyers looking for specific animals, for example steers reared at grass and not fed fishmeal.

Project chairman and Chippenham-based auctioneer, Peter Kingwell, acknowledges that although buyers may not be willing to pay for the information – which would cover running costs – its availability would encourage more competition for stock. "I have always believed that, in itself, is the biggest thing needed in agriculture."

Meat traders have welcomed the venture, but argue that it will only be credible if independently audited on-farm. "If the information is out of date or wrong, then its no use to anyone. It must be checked," suggests Bob White, Anglo Beef Producers group procurement manager.

The project aims to go live from Jan 1 next year and has been spearheaded by the Livestock Auctioneers Association. A cash injection thought to be worth almost £250,000 has been used from the Department of Trade and Industry. &#42