16 July 1999

£7 passport?

– shove that

By Alan Barker

GOVERNMENTS plan to charge farmers £7 for each cattle passport issued, to fund the British Cattle Movement service, was one of the main talking points in the cattle lines at this weeks Great Yorkshire Show. It got a rough reception.

"You know what the minister can do with that," was the comment of Norfolk Galloway breeder Frances Key. BSE was not the fault of producers and they should not be expected to meet the ever increasing cost of the disease, he said.

It had not even been proved that meat and bonemeal was the cause of BSE. But if it was, the onus should be on renderers for failing to provide a sterile product.

Others suggested the proposal was another indication that government really did not want a farming industry in this country.

Richard Saxby, whose family is establishing a pedigree Jersey herd at Bedale, North Yorkshire, said that if the charge was introduced he would have to go non-pedigree, saving the £10 fee for a pedigree registration certificate.

Why could the pedigree certificate and the passport not be combined into a single document, he wondered.

Chief cattle steward, Bill Cowling, was appalled at the prospect of a £7 charge. It would be a detrimental step causing further loss of confidence and pushing some people to become devious, he believed.

It was sad that government did not seem to recognise the problems of the rural economy, of which livestock production was just one.

In the dairy lines, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report was being described as the end of Milk Marque and a further blow to the economy of the dairy industry.

"We are not being paid the true value of our milk now, without giving the dairies more power to pay less," said Mr Saxby.

And Cameron Baty from Stocksfield on Tyne, who has sold his dairy herd because he could see no future in the business, joined the call for a common sense joint pedigree registration certificate and cattle passport.

With current computerised systems it should be possible for breed societies and the minister to get together and produce a joint document, with the savings passed on to producers, he believed.