Missing cattle delay red tape cut

25 April 2000

‘Missing’ cattle delay red tape cut

By Alistair Driver

GOVERNMENT officials claim they cannot cut the amount of red tape faced by some farmers until all UK cattle are entered on to a computerised database.

The government wants to extend its computerised Cattle Tracing System to cover all cattle, claiming the move will have significant benefits for farmers.

But Ministry of Agriculture officials said red tape could only be reduced once an outstanding seven million cattle in the national herd are on the database.

About 3.5-4m cattle are recorded on the CTS, which has been running since 1998. MAFF hopes the rest of the cattle will be on the system by this autumn.

Cattle born before 1 July, 1996 are not on the database. Details of other animals registered between July 1996 and September 1998 may be incomplete.

Farmers will receive forms from MAFF sometime this summer containing details of the cattle it believes are on their farms, said a ministry official.

Producers will be asked to check the forms and add any missing cattle. MAFF expect the process to take around 10 weeks, he told a press briefing in London.

The European Commission is known to be keen for member states to get fully traceable systems up and running as soon as possible.

But a MAFF spokeswoman insisted that the main motive for the initiative is the need to pave the way for cuts in red tape pledged by the government.

Applications for livestock subsidy schemes could be made simpler, there will be fewer farm inspections and the need for passports may be reduced, she said.

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