Cumbria cattle database site opens today
THE British Cattle Movement Service site at Workington, Cumbria, opens today. It will not begin operating until March.
The database forms part of the drive to persuade the European Union (EU) to lift its ban on exports of British beef. It is designed to hold information centrally on an estimated 20 million movements each year of cattle between farms, livestock markets and abattoirs.
The Workington site will handle mainly the paper-based movements, which includes those filled out by farmers, and will link to the Ministry of Agricultures main database in Guildford, Surrey. It will facilitate greater traceability and also complies with an EU requirement that all member states have computerised cattle trading systems by the end of 1999.
Funding is still to be finalised. It is not yet known how the cost will be divided between taxpayers and industry. The start-up costs are estimated at £5m-£6m and annual running costs are £10m-£15m. The eventual aim is to privatise the service.
Farmers will have to fill in cards when they buy and sell cattle to each other which will be processed at Workington. The information will be fed into the database.
Animals health records will become accessible once databases on various cattle diseases are linked to Guildford.