Producers are "seriously negative" about tagging

UK - NPA has reiterated its case that holding-of-birth tagging of pigs is not necessary when the pigs are moving through a well-regulated pyramid.
calendar icon 1 May 2003
clock icon 4 minute read
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"We are quite clear that our tried-and-tested pyramid system provides full traceability and that pigs moving through a pyramid can be treated as if they were going to slaughter and therefore require only slap marking," said NPA's Ian Campbell today.

He urges animal health minister Eliot Morley to recognise the validity of the pig sector's case when he comes to updating pig movement rules this summer.

NPA has stressed to Defra on several occasions over the past few months that it would be disproportionately burdensome if government were to insist on tagging for movement of pigs within pyramids.

'The industry does not disagree with the fact that tagging could be a useful adjunct,' said Ian Campbell. 'However, we already supply good traceability throughout the production line for commercial as well as legislative reasons and with the bulk of not-to-slaughter pig movements taking place within pyramids, we can already guarantee the traceability that Defra is demanding.

"To make a law that requires tagging for pyramid movements will add cost and reduce the health and welfare of the national herd. A law that invites non-compliance will be no good to anyone."

At a recent meeting with NPA, Defra appeared to accept that well-run pyramids could already offer reliable batch traceability. They agreed it was not in producers' interests to mix pigs. However, they raised the issue of pigs that had to be removed from their pen-mates in order to recover from injury or disease.

Generally, the Defra vets indicated their concern was not about well-run units, but about pig movements in any less well-regulated systems.

NPA has stressed to Defra that plans to include a blanket imposition of holding of birth tagging for pig movements (except to slaughter) had produced a "seriously negative" response from producers, who were concerned about the health and viability of the industry, particularly in the outdoor sector.

Ian Campbell said today he recognised that Defra were under some pressure from a 1992 EU directive which stipulated tagging. He also recognised that if the revised PRIMO rules failed to deal with the issue to Europe's satisfaction it might cause cross compliance problems which might in turn impact on other sectors.

Defra vets support holding-of-birth tagging as a "useful adjunct" to improved traceability but NPA argue that its usefulness is out of all proportion to the cost and disruption it would cause if introduced.

"Clearly we would expect holdings in a well-regulated pyramid that wins exemption from tagging to be formally registered as such, and under those terms it should be quite possible for Defra to implement exemptions that would satisfy Brussels," said Ian Campbell.

NPA will urge Eliot Morley to bear the following points in mind when he updates the PRIMO rules:

  • A paper trail exists for batches of pigs via AMLS apart from company records.
  • Individual pens will need to carry identification papers where there is a mixing of sources within a building.
  • Where pens are of mixed source such as a hospital or recovery pen, it may then be necessary to identify these pigs with a tag.
  • Thought needs to be given to the tracking of pigs through a nursery unit so that HOB identity is secure through to finishing.
  • Security of a pyramid should not be determined by any limitation on numbers. The practice of all-in all-out for batch rearing /finishing units means that the supply breeding herds will change by batch but will rarely exceed two or three except for the biggest finishing units where supply herds may often have designated buildings within the enterprise.
Source: National Pig Association - By Digby Scott - 30th April 2003
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