22 August 1997

Tag makers concerned about meeting deadline

TAG makers are becoming increasingly concerned that they will not be able to comply with new tagging legislation by the Jan 1998 deadline.

EU legislation passed at the July farm council requires cattle to be identified by double ear-tagging from Jan 5, 1998. But confusion over the type of tags, national symbols and information placed on the tags have delayed national implementation of the legislation.

The EU Commission had also hoped to encourage member states to use an all-numeric tagging system for cattle. But the Italians have vehemently objected to a move away from its alpha-numeric system, which is also used in the UK.

MAFF claims EU rules being negotiated give the go-ahead for the smaller metal second tag, which is preferred by the UK industry. But tag manufacturers claim Brussels has yet to give definitive backing for the UKs proposals.

The primary tag must be plastic. The only information allowed to be shown is the logo of the issuing authority, likely to be a crown for Great Britain, the letters UK and the herd mark and unique herd and animal numbers.

The second tag can only show the details depicted on the primary tag and no management infor-mation can be shown on either tag.

Geoff Rhodes, spokesman for Ritchey Tagg, said the longer the decision was delayed, the harder it would be for manufacturers to respond.

"We are currently consulting on the GB logo – probably the crown – and waiting to hear Brussels revised plans due in the early Autumn. It will be difficult now to comply with the legislation, but if manufacturers find for some reason they do not have the right equipment, there could be further delays."

Carol Lloyd, NFU assistant cattle and sheep adviser, said double tagging would definitely start from Jan 1998, and that it was now up to MAFF to liaise with tagging manufacturers to make sure there were enough tags for farmers.

She expected the UK to stick with its alpha-numeric system for the time being, though MAFF said a change to an all-numeric tagging policy was a real possibility within the next two years.

&#8226 The commission has ruled that member states can combine cattle passports and CIDs (cattle identification documents) on one piece of paper. The UK is expected to adopt the ruling early next year. &#42

Tony McDougal