3 July 1998

Cattle passport threat

FARMERS who fail to apply for cattle passports on time face being stopped from selling any stock from their farms until MAFF has inspected the holding.

At the moment, farmers who persistently apply late for passports have their applications refused. But MAFF is proposing to clamp down on the situation and ban such farmers from buying and selling cattle from their farms until a satisfactory inspection is completed.

Ministers plan to introduce the measures from Sept 28 to coincide with the launch of the new computerised cattle movement database.

Passport applications must be made within 58 days of the birth of beef calves, and 29.5 days after dairy calves are born. New EU rules from Sept 28 will reduce this time to a maximum of 15 days from when the animal is tagged.

From Jan 1, 2000 passport application deadlines will shorten again to a maximum of seven days from when the calves are tagged.

&#8226 On the eve of farm minister Jack Cunninghams visit to the new British Cattle Movement Service headquarters in Workington, Cumbria, an embarrassing error has come to light.

A mailing to the countrys 120,000 cattle producers fell victim to a computer glitch which resulted in many farmers receiving leaflets with the correct address, but the wrong name on them.

"It is a very unfortunate error," said a MAFF spokesman. Dr Cunningham, along with NFU president Ben Gill, was due to visit the Workington site today (Fri).