18 April 1997

Pig database costs to be borne by industry

EU REGULATIONS demanding the UK introduces a national pig computerised database system by 1999 could cost the industry £4m a year, according to the NFU.

The proposals, drafted by the Dutch presidency and accepted by farm ministers, will mean that all EU member states must have a national identification system in operation by 1999.

MAFF estimates the cost of setting up the national computerised register will be between £3m and £5m, while annual running costs will be £2m. But the NFU argues costs will run at £4m a year. All costs will have to be borne by the industry.

Under the directive amendment, brought in to complement the setting up of a national cattle database system following the BSE crisis, every pig will be given a holding number at birth.

The animal will either have to be tattooed or tagged, which will have welfare implications, the NFU claims.

Critics claim the Dutch only brought in the rules because of criticism from Spain, Italy and France that they were spreading disease through the widespread export of weaners.

Dafydd Owen, NFU pig specialist, hit out at the regulations, saying it would have been far better for the European Commission to employ more veterinary inspectors.

"We are going to have to come to terms with the practical, cost and welfare implications of all this," he said.n