31 March 2000

Difficulties dog EID programme

INTRODUCING electronic identification (EID) in Scotlands national cattle herd is proving more difficult than was first anticipated.

A working group involving industry representatives and government has met twice in the past fortnight and already identified a number of serious technical issues.

But Scottish NFU president Jim Walker and Scottish farm minister Ross Finnie insist the difficulties can be overcome.

"Introducing electronic identification on a national scale had never been attempted before," said Mr Walker. "So its hardly surprising that there are technical problems to iron out. The most important thing is that we dont rush into a system without ensuring we have the right technology in place."

The problems identified by the working group include the lack of commercially available EID devices that can carry an animals unique UK identification number.

Another problem the working group has discovered is that the British Cattle Movement Services database at Workington cannot provide the information needed by farmers, auctioneers and abattoirs if the system is to produce the benefits it initially heralded.

Mr Walker said "Ways to overcome this are already being discussed, but there would be absolutely no point in us having electronic identification unless all the passport and movement information on individual animals is available". &#42