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Bovine EID Update

20 March 2011

At the end of February, the European Commission announced that it was working on a proposal to introduce electronic identification in bovine animals. TheCattleSite Editor Charlotte Johnston speaks with Sergio Pavon, the European Commission official in charge of animal identification and traceability to find out more.

Background

At the Paris ‘Salon de l’Agriculture’ (19th-27th February) the European Commission announced it is preparing a proposal for electronic identification in bovines, upgrading the existing plastic tagging system.

DG SANCO, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers, is confident this step will further increase the traceability of animals and food products for veterinary and food safety purposes, controlling the spread of animal diseases, with veterinarians playing a key role in the process.

1) Would bovine EID be compulsory and how much would this cost producers?

It is uncertain for the moment whether bovine EID would be implemented on a compulsory or on a voluntary basis.

2) What maintenance costs would be involved?

The cost of EID tagging is more expensive than the cost of conventional ID tagging. This is a general rule that applies to all Member States (countries in the EU). However, the price of the identification devices will largely depend on how the ordering of the tags is organised within an EU member state. If the tags are tendered on a regional, or on a national level, or if every independent farmer has to order his or her own tags, the price of the tag sets could increase by up to 40 per cent.

3) Would grants be offered to help roll this out?

EU legislation does not determine who should cover the costs of EID. Member States may financially support farmers for the introduction of EID within the framework of EU rules on state aids. Support is possible under different Commissions’ rural development measures.

4) What are the benefits for producers? E.g. would they store records of vaccinations, birth weights etc.

EID, if in conjunction with e-reading, may help to reduce identification errors and reduce time to search the history of each bovine. One of the main benefits of EID if used in conjunction with e-reading and e-transfer, would be the reduction of administrative work, such as written notifications about the bovines’ identities, for keepers (farmers and other stakeholders).

Currently, all bovine notifications (births, deaths, animal movements) must be manually registered and converted into an electronic format to the computerised database. EID will also support the competitiveness of the sector as an excellent tool for improving farm management and on-farm automation.

Additional benefits of bovine electronic identification cover disease prevention and control, preventing fraud, genetic improvement, crisis management and trade will be among them. In addition to strengthening the current system of traceability, consumer protection and food safety. Food processing establishments (e.g.slaughterhouses) and markets will benefit, in addition there will be a reduction of the administrative work and labour costs.

The system in its early stages, and more details will be revealed later in the year.

March 2011

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