BSE: 'System for keeping track of cattle is obsolete'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Government's system for tracing the movements of cattle, introduced after the BSE crisis of the 1990s, is obsolete and in serious need of improvement, MPs warn today.

The Government's system for tracing the movements of cattle, introduced after the BSE crisis of the 1990s, is obsolete and in serious need of improvement, MPs warn today.

It was developed in haste and is more expensive and less efficient than systems used in other EU countries, according to a report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. The system has suffered from serious technical difficulties in terms of access, ease of use, maintainability, adaptability and its link with other systems, the MPs say.

In England, the Government spends £30m each year on livestock identification and tracking. The main bodies involved are the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, responsible for policy, and the department's British Cattle Movement Service, now part of the Rural Payments Agency.

The cattle tracing system requires notifications from seller, market and buyer. Where these fail to match, or not all are received, they result in an anomaly, and there are, at present, 1.2 million cases outstanding, the MPs say. Making markets responsible for reporting animal movements would reduce anomalies, and could save £1m in postage costs a year.

Reducing errors by using more efficient notification methods such as the internet could save £15m a year, the MPs say. "The cattle tracing system in particular is inefficient, overly burdensome, and based on obsolete technology," said the committee chairman, Edward Leigh, "and it does not fully meet the needs of state veterinarians to control outbreaks of infectious diseases."

Comments