December 21, 2007
December 21, 2007 - European Union (EU) ministers agreed on Monday to introduce electronic tags for millions of sheep and goats across the EU by the end of 2009, part of a strategy to prevent epidemics of contagious diseases like foot-and-mouth.
Back in December 2003, the bloc's farm ministers agreed on new animal tagging rules to replace a system where only flocks of sheep and herds of goats are tracked when moved from farm to farm, sold at market or sent for slaughter.
But at that time, electronic tagging systems were not sufficiently advanced or developed for this to be feasible, so it was agreed that more research needed to be conducted first.
After studying a European Commission assessment report of pilot projects, the ministers agreed to delay introducing compulsory tagging by two years to the end of 2009, rather than a start of January 2008. Italy and Spain voted against.
Unique identifier codes are carried by the animal either on an eartag or inside its digestive tract. The identification number can then be read using either a portable or fixed electronic reader.
Electronic identifiers cost between 1 euro and 2 euros (US$1.44 and $2.88) per animal, while the minimum cost of hand-held readers is 200 euros (US$287) and that of static readers is 1,000 euros (US$1,439).
The aim is to ensure full and rapid traceability back to the individual animal in the event of a disease outbreak, since electronic tagging allows individual animal codes to be read directly into data processing systems. Reprinted from Reuters