24 May 1996

June start is unlikely

MEASURES to introduce double tagging and individual passports for all beef cattle born on or after June 1 have yet to be drawn up.

With the original deadline only a week away the scheme is unlikely to be introduced before August, says Rowland Kershaw-Dalby, secretary of the National Cattle Association.

MAFF is aiming to push the new legislation through parliament before the summer recess so the scheme starts before autumn.

"Basically producers are looking at a double tagging and passport system," says Mr Kershaw-Dalby. "But MAFF is still considering what system to use to verify the passports. Their aim is to minimise scope for fraud, one of the problems with the system now."

Currently, MAFF is proposing a metal and plastic tag are used. Passports will be issued by MAFF once the tagging company has sent a form to MAFF stating the producers holding number and the corresponding issued tag numbers. This data will be scanned into MAFFs computer and the certificate sent on to the producer. Once calf details are filled in, the certificate is returned to MAFF.

After the calf has been born it is up to the producer to fill in details such as sex, date of birth and breed. The certificate is then sent back to MAFF and the information added to its database.

Random on-farm checks will operate to ensure producers are complying with legislation. And the number of tags ordered will be limited and relative to the number of breeding animals on that holding. These initiatives are being considered in an attempt to cut down on fraudulent subsidy claims.