8 August 1997

Leaders concerned cattle database will include no extras

By Tony McDougal

LIVESTOCK industry leaders are concerned that the proposed central computerised database will be little more than an extension of the cattle passport scheme.

And they are concerned that government has declined to comment on whether it will pay the estimated £5m establishment costs for the system, to be based in Cumbria (News, Aug 1).

Tim Brigstocke, Holstein Friesian Society chief executive, said the governments proposals merely met the basic EU minimum requirements to establish a computerised system by Dec 31, 1999.

He had hoped that, as well as traceability, the database would be able to carry information on farm assurance, disease surveillance, milk recording and breed society information.

In conjunction with milk recording business, NMR, and an information technology company, theHFS had planned to submit a tender to run the database. But government has said the system will be run initially by the publicsector.

David Rossington, head of MAFFs animal health disease control division, said in a letter obtained by FW that by avoiding a private tender the government would save time.

Mr Rossington said a project board, involving representatives from the NFU, Meat and Livestock Commission, British Retail Consortium, and Consu-mers Association, would be established to help set up the database. That would run in conjunction with the cross-industry working group, chaired by Staffs dairy farmer Bill Madders.