HL Deb 27 April 1998 vol 589 cc8-9WA
Baroness Young of Old Scone

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Cattle Tracing System is expected to begin operation. [HL1558]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue)

The launch date for the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) will be 28 September 1998. The system will register cattle and their movements from birth to death. It is an enhancement to the current cattle passport database which already holds details of over 5 million cattle born or imported into Great Britain from 1 July 1996. The main change will be to hold, in addition, the movement history of all those cattle registered on to the system from 28 September.

A new organisation, the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), is being set up in Workington, Cumbria, to run the CTS. Recruitment is going well, with applications of high quality; buildings have been handed over on time; the main equipment has been installed; and development of the new system is in hand.

The Government sent to all cattle farmers, livestock markets and operators of abattoirs in Great Britain a leaflet about CTS on 20 April. The leaflet gives details of the new cattle passport which will be introduced as part of the CTS. The new passport will include details of the animal, details of where it has been throughout its life, cards for owners of cattle to send in when the animal moves, a record of Beef Special Premium and eventually details of the death of the animal. Cattle with the new passport will not require a separate Cattle Identification Document for Beef Special Premium, thus reducing one element of paperwork for farmers.

The leaflet that was sent on 20 April is the first in a series which will be sent to cattle farmers between now and the launch of CTS on 28 September to familiarise everyone with their role in the new system.

As we have previously announced, the Government have decided that they will meet the costs not only of setting up the CTS but also of running and enforcing it during its first full year of operation. This is a step of real value to the livestock industry, with government bearing costs of the order of £35 million on behalf of the industry.

The CTS offers great opportunities to the British cattle industry. The new system will make it possible to check easily where cattle have been during their lives, trace cattle more easily if there is a disease outbreak and give greater assurance to buyers about an animal's history, and so help to rebuild confidence in British cattle and British beef at home and abroad.

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