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Electronic Identification: Cattle

Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 am on 12th November 2007.

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Photo of Billy Armstrong Billy Armstrong UUP 3:15 am, 12th November 2007

6. asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development whether she will provide an update on progress on the electronic identification system for cattle.      (AQO 755/08)

Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development provides technical input and advice to an industry-led working group on cattle electronic identification, which aims to have a voluntary electronic identification system in place on farms, cattle markets and meat plants during 2008. The system will work in parallel with existing statutory provisions and is expected to introduce efficiencies in the recording of animal details in those locations. It may also improve the effectiveness of the system of cattle identification, registration and movement by reducing the scope for human error in recording and transcribing information.

Photo of Billy Armstrong Billy Armstrong UUP

Can the Minister provide the House with an estimate of the financial cost to the agriculture industry of the establishment and running of an electronic identification system for cattle?

Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin

Electronic tags are between 60p and £1 more expensive than sheep or cattle tags, but it is anticipated that the price differential will decrease — perhaps to under 50p for a pair of cattle tags — when large volumes begin to be used. The benefits of fewer reading errors and mistakes when entering existing tag details into a computer — along with the ease of recording animals during inspections or tests, or at markets or abattoirs — will greatly outweigh any slight additional cost to the farmer.