25 February 2000

MAFF amnesty on passports

OWNERS of cattle which should have passports will not be prosecuted if they give details to the Ministry of Agriculture, which is compiling a database of the entire national herd.

Under European rules, the government must include all cattle on a national database by the end of this year. About 7m animals still need to be registered with the British Cattle Movement Service.

Most of the cattle still to be tracked down are those born before passports were introduced in July 1996. MAFF also wants to trace cattle born after that date which do not have passports.

To ensure co-operation, it has offered an amnesty so owners of these animals are not penalised. Farmers prosecuted for having animals without passports can face a £5000 fine or even imprisonment.

The amnesty will last for the duration of the data collection exercise, which is likely to begin in early autumn. MAFF will send pre-printed forms to farmers who also have the option of sending the required data via the internet. &#42