19 August 1997

Electronic tag is put on hold

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ELECTRONIC tags are unlikely to gain official approval for at least the next two years.

So warns MLC senior industry strategy consultant Archie Sains. "There are concerns over the two international standards in use, and the availability of products because of difficulties in licensing patent information. While that is the case, agricultural departments will be nervous about recommending electronic products for official use."

The EU is currently setting up a three year electronic identification trial. This will look at electronic ear implants, tags and boluses, and the capability of dual readers and databases to collect and store information. The UK is not participating in the trial, which has taken longer than anticipated to set up.

"The EU is unlikely to make a decision on electronic tagging until the end of the trial." However, Mr Sains acknowledges that electronic tagging has its advantages – less risk of transcription errors and the availability of all information on one database.

"Where producers can see a particular benefit from electronic identification then they could use it as part of a tag. There is no approval required for the electronic part of cattle tags."