Cows about to get passports

June 16, 2017
These three bulls, prime specimen of Jamaica Red Poll beef cattle, went at it following the recent appraisal which took place at Dr. Karl Wellington's YS Farm in St. Elizabeth.

Dr Karl Wellington, a cattle farmer in St Elizabeth, said he is eager for the implementation of the National Animal Identification and Traceability System.

"I would enrol in the programme as soon as it comes to St Elizabeth," the 80-year-old Wellington told THE WEEKEND STAR.

Under the system, every head of cattle and other livestock will be tagged and issued a passport. The passport will contain critical information about the animal and will be mandatory to allow the movement of all animals.

Dr Wellington, who works closely with the farmers who are hard hit by praedial larceny, said the system is "not going to be the total cure" for praedial larceny, but said it can be beneficial.

"Every year I lose several head of cattle to praedial larceny. In the worse year, I lost 15 heads," Wellington said.

"As farmers, we are really distressed with this praedial larceny thing and when you lose cattle, it's a heck a lot of your time and your resources that have gone," he said.

Dr Wellington has put his own measures in place to protect himself from thieves, but he still welcomes the idea and the aim of the programme as a livestock farmer.

"I know what the benefits are likely to be with respect to trade in beef and livestock, but this thing is going to be taking a lifetime to get on the road. It is too slow," he lamented.

He also highlighted another reason for his interest in the programme, which is that "one of the offshoots of this thing is assisting with the praedial larceny thing from which we are all suffering." said Wellington. While he believes that "there is a shift in identifying the culprits", the programme "is not going to be the total cure for it".

However, he recognises that the programme can be beneficial and hopes it begins in his parish soon.

J.C. Hutchinson, minister without portfolio in the ministry of agriculture, told THE WEEKEND STAR that even while the ear-tagging system is being rolled out, geared particularly at cattle, the ministry is looking at creating a programme that will help to protect goat farmers from thieves.

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