03 June 1998
Shake-up for sheep, pig and goat tracking

By FWi staff

UNIFORM traceability rules on sheep, pigs and goats are in the pipeline, following the release of a European Commission consultation paper today (3 June).

Jeff Rooker, junior farm minister, welcomed the move, saying a proper tracking system for sheep, pigs and goats was necessary to reassure consumers about the safety of food, to control animal disease and protect animal health.

An improved EU system for tracking cattle has already been agreed. All member states must have a computerised cattle tracing system in place by 2000.

The UK – eager to get the global beef export ban lifted – has already initiated its own computerised tracing system, which is expected to come on line by the end of September this year.

Northern Ireland has had a computerised cattle tracking system for several years now – and that is the primary reason why the European Commission last week lifted the export ban on the Province.

A Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) spokesman said the UK would probably find it easier to implement any changes resulting from the consultation paper than its competitors. This was because Britain was further advanced than its competitors in the traceability and tagging of cattle.

“As far as tagging for sheep, pigs and goats is concerned, we have a lot of in-house experience because of our work on the cattle front,” he said.

“Obviously we want to make sure any system that is put in place is harmonised across the European Union, and that any system put in place doesnt burden one country against another,” he added.