1 August 1997

Cattle database to be set up soon

GOVERNMENT has announced that the UKs central computerised database system will be set up by the end of March 1998.

Government had hoped to have the cattle traceability system, operating by the end of this year, but the project had been delayed by the general election.

MAFF announced on Wednesday that the database, to be known as the British Cattle Movement Service, will be based at Workington, Cumbria.

MAFF has yet to decide who will pay the start-up costs, estimated at £5m, as well as the £15m annual running expenses. The farming and livestock industries both believe government should pay its share because the database will help with its statutory duties in the event of any serious disease outbreak.

Bill Madders, chairman of the cross-industry national cattle database working group, said abattoirs and auction markets would initially send up to 90% of cattle movement data electronically to the central database. The remaining 10% of movements from farm to farm, would be recorded through a paper-based system.

"We realise we will have to have a card based system for the time being but want to move to a situation where all data is electronically transmitted quickly, so that costs can be reduced," he said.

Tony McDougal

Mr Madders said the setting up of the database would be another step towards getting the beef export ban lifted."Our aim is that cattle entering the database will be traded freely around the world."