The NFU has raised the issue of livestock traceability at a meeting with Defra Minister George Eustice and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Lord Gardiner alongside AHDB chief executive Jane King and John Cross, independent chair of the traceability design user group.
The meeting comes after discussions with Defra on the new Livestock Information Programme and how this could help record the movements of cattle and sheep digitally, moving away from a paper-based system.
NFU Deputy President Minette Batters attended the meeting and said afterwards: “It is critical for all of us that this vital new service meets the needs of all livestock producers and helps drive a modern and progressive livestock industry as we prepare to face global markets.
“World class animal traceability will help position Britain as world leaders in livestock production, renowned for high quality products, health, welfare and environmental credentials and of course strengthens our collective ability to manage the impact of both endemic and exotic disease.
“Defra is taking a fresh and partnership-orientated approach to this work, and is exploring options to put new services in place from 2019, starting with cattle. The service will see the introduction of EID tags for cattle, starting on a voluntary basis but with an expectation of moving to a mandatory approach over time.
“The programme is clearly supported at all levels in Defra, as it is in industry and by the NFU. Both ministers were highly supportive, and encouraged us to think differently about how traceability can drive best value for all of us.
“Defra explained that it needs to secure funding for the programme, and the NFU along with many other industry bodies have expressed our support and are hopeful that we will see the programme progressing early in the New Year.”
Lord Gardiner said: “I’m a supporter of the livestock sector for lots of reasons, but we need to make sure that the consumer is also convinced that our products are the best, exemplifying brand Britain.”