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Cattle now being tagged in nat'l animal ID system

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 8:00 AM

Shanique Samuels, Gleaner Writer

MAY PEN, Clarendon:THE FIRST head of cattle were tagged at the 62nd staging of the annual Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show, under the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS).

NAITS was announced by Minister Roger Clarke during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament in April. Minister Derrick Kellier, who is acting for Clarke, who is on sick leave, said the system will not only mitigate against praedial larceny but will also give the ministry a handle on food control.

He noted that a DNA sample will be collected at the time of tagging the animals, and will be stored in a computerised database for traceability and food control purposes.

The project has costedthe Government $20 million. The first tagging and identification will be of no cost to the cattle owners, but subsequent costs will be shared proportionately.

Pigs next

Veterinary officer Dr Icolyn Ricketts-Gayle said the first stage of the implementation of NAITS will start with the tagging of cattle islandwide, to be followed by pigs, for which some elements of the identification and traceability system are still at the developmental stage.

Implementation will be carried out through public/ private partnerships and collaborations with the ministry and cattle owners.

Dr Ricketts outlined that the implementation of NAITS will be mandatory which means all cattle must be registered and will be governed by legislation. It will provide the capability for identifying all registered animals with the owner or establishment. With full implementation, only carcasses of registered and tagged animals will be allowed to enter the food chain and commercial feed. "Going forward, consumers will be more aware of what they consume, where the product originated and how it is treated. We will be able to trace the animal from the point of slaughter right back to the farm," Dr Ricketts explained.

Passport for trading

All owners of cattle and operators of abattoirs are expected to participate. As such, persons who are not necessarily farmers, who own at least one head of cattle, will have to register their animal and get a 'cattle passport' in case ownership should change hands.

The first tagging and identification exercises will be carried out by personnel from the Veterinary Services division.

The system will be fully implemented in September and will be used by some 220 farmers.

rural@gleanerjm.com