9 November 2001

EU funding for electronic tags

By John Burns

South-west correspondent

CORNWALLs cattle producers are forging ahead with electronic identification of livestock with the hope of more funding from the EU and UK government.

Pilot projects using ear tags containing electronic identification (EID) microchips have proved successful and the next stage is to sign up 300 more herds to widen experience of the technology. The ultimate aim is to identify all Cornwalls cattle electronically.

EID tags, readers and associated computer programs were demonstrated at a joint NFU/Duchy College Technology Awareness Day at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge, last week. It was rumoured that significant extra funds would soon be made available for the cattle EID project.

Figures of up to £1.5m for help with buying EID tags and associated equipment as well as training were hinted at. But David Rodda, senior agricultural co-ordinator for Cornwalls Objective 1 agricultural development team, said they were hopeful of securing funding, but had not yet had official confirmation.

However, he explained why the countys EID development projects had not included comparisons with rumen boluses, which some commercial companies claim are less likely to be lost. "When the project was first set up, the committee believed boluses were too expensive unless they were recycled once an animal was slaughtered. But this may have offered an opportunity for fraud."

Those participating in pilot schemes claim very low losses of button-style EID tags. Attending the event, producer Jim Moon reported he had only lost one out of 200 used to date.

But using only EID tags in the next phase of the project could be a problem should EU-wide IDEA trials result in government insisting all producers must use boluses. "I do not believe that will be the outcome of the trials. But we have taken the precaution of using only dual readers capable of reading both full duplex – on which one tag company has a monopoly – and half duplex chips," said Mr Rodda. &#42

CORNISH ELECTRONIC ID

&#8226 EU funding expected.

&#8226 Button-style tags used.