12 March 1999

Electronic tag study to come

AN independent study of the potential of electronic tagging to speed implementation of the date-based beef export scheme has been ordered by Scottish farm minister Lord Sewel.

He announced the move at the annual meeting of the Scottish NFU last Friday in Dunblane and promised it would be a speedy affair. "Electronic tagging of all cattle in Scotland seems to me to have huge potential. It could bring major marketing benefits."

"If the study indicates clear-cut benefits, as I hope it will, then government and the industry could work together to get an all-Scotland system up and running as quickly as possible," he said.

The study will look at the possibility of establishing a number of satellite centres around the country feeding a central data base which has been established by the Scottish Borders Traceability Assurance Group.

Lord Sewel also hoped that electronic tagging could simplify on-farm inspections for the various beef subsidy schemes. "It could avoid difficulties with the EU over alleged deficiencies in the way we control the schemes," he said.

Such difficulties have, in the meantime, led the government to send a letter to beef producers setting out new and more stringent EU requirements for record keeping associated with the beef special premium scheme.

All male cattle will have to be counted and cross matched with farm records, whether or not they have been the subject of a BSPS claim. In addition, farm records must be supported by purchase and sale or slaughter receipts.