Tatarstan launching campaign for mass identification of cattle — without which it will be impossible to sell meat

This can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of rubles for farmers and private farms with large herds

Tatarstan has launched the campaign for unified animal identification — the representatives of the Main Veterinary Department of Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Agriculture reported about it at the briefing on 29 October. It is not yet known how much this identification will cost the authorities of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Russian Federation — the federal law itself will probably be adopted only in the first half of 2021. But farms and even personal subsidiary plots will have to buy a tag for each head of cattle already now, and for small cattle and horses — from next year. After the law comes into force, it will be impossible to sell unidentified meat. How much it will cost the farms themselves and how this campaign will be conducted — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

While people are fighting the coronavirus, animals in Russia are suffering from African swine fever...

The reason for the mass identification of primarily agricultural animals in the regions of Russia is the regular outbreaks of infectious diseases that claim up to a thousand heads of livestock and make the subjects of the Russian Federation unfavourable in this sense. The reputation of meat products produced on individual farms also suffers. As the head of the Main Veterinary Department of Tatarstan, Almaz Khisamutdinov, said, while the whole world is struggling with human coronavirus infection, the situation with infectious diseases among animals also remains tense in Russia.

An outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) was registered in 25 regions of the Russian Federation, there have been 214 of them since the beginning of 2020, including 140 foci among domestic pigs. There are currently 150 hotbeds under quarantine.

The situation with ASF in the Volga Federal District, among Tatarstan's neighbours, is also alarming: seven points of infection were recorded in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. In Samara Oblast, “the situation got out of control” — 113 cases of plague have already been recorded, which puts the border regions of the Republic of Tatarstan at risk: Nurlatsky, Leninogorsky and Cheremshansky. Despite the measures taken, the risk of infection is still high there. There have been also cases of brucellosis in 39 regions, nodular dermatitis in 23 regions, and foot-and-mouth disease in 32 regions.

...and pathogenic flu that infected birds in three farms of Tatarstan

Besides, pathogenic influenza is also spreading among farm animals — it has already been recorded in 10 regions, including three cases in Tatarstan. According to Khisamutdinov, Tatarstan's largest number of livestock and poultry, close contacts with other regions, neighbours in the Volga Federal District, put this population in danger. For example, at the beginning of 2020 alone, 24,500 heads of cattle (for breeding or slaughtering), 107,000 pigs and 4,5 million birds were imported to Tatarstan.

Despite 4,5 million vaccinations and regular monitoring in stores, on October 7, the pathogenic flu entered Tatarstan: it was detected on Khairullov's farm in the Buinsky district, whose owner bought sick poultry in Chuvashia “on the cheap” and without any documents. As a result, he had to destroy the entire population of geese — 1,000 birds. On October 20, an outbreak of influenza was recorded in two more farms in Muslyumovsky and Drozhzhanovsky districts: it turned out that the birds had access to a natural reservoir, where it was infected with wild waterfowl (which is rarely sick, but is a source of infection for poultry).

“Yes, it used to be possible to keep poultry freely, but now new diseases appeared, and today, to get income from breeding poultry or livestock, you need to keep them closed!” said Khisamutdinov, advising the heads of poultry enterprises to strictly follow the instructions and orders of the ministry of agriculture. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs engaged in the resale of poultry and livestock in Tatarstan. Among them, there are those that buy “more cheaply”, without accompanying documents, but the origin of the livestock must be known and a veterinary accompanying document from the seller is required, without it, healthy livestock is not sold today!”

Numbers will be given to cattle, pigs, birds and even bees

To combat the above problems, the authorities in Tatarstan decided to massively identify animals by the example of the neighbouring regions, not waiting for the bill: the animal is hung a tag, put a mark or chip, and the Federal Service Rosselkhoznadzor will issue a unique 11-digit number that will be entered into an electronic database and system of electronic accompanying documents. Any manipulation with animals will also be entered in the database.

By 2028, Tatarstan is going to identify all animals, birds, bees, exotic animals, as well as dogs and cats, which should give “full transparency and traceability from the moment of birth”. The system will also record any movement from one region to another.

“This bill will be adopted in 2021, but the work still needs to be carried out. We've already started. Without identification, the region's wellness will be difficult to ensure. Animal owners and farm managers should understand this," Almaz Khisamutdinov said.

So far less than 1% of animals are identified in Tatarstan, the region lags behind its neighbours by dozens of times

His colleague, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food of Tatarstan Lenar Garipov, said that the order of the Cabinet of Ministers of Tatarstan as of 26 August 2020 approved the interdepartmental working group and the action plan on introduction of a unified registration system and registration of animals on the territory of Tatarstan.

From August to October, the pilot project was carried out in the Baltasinsky and Arsky districts, and the start of its implementation was announced throughout the republic from October. First of all, the authorities will identify cattle, from 2021 — small cattle and horses, from 2022 — pigs and birds, from 2023 — fur-bearing animals, from 2024 — bees and fish.

“A unified system of animal registration is the most optimal solution. And its application is planned throughout Russia. Animal numbers will be unique. Own numbers will be prohibited. Each animal will now have its own passport, where its vaccinations, age, and physiological state data will be recorded. Our task is to carry out tagging already on the first day of the animal's birth. The farm owner or its veterinarian is required to register in the system himself, and an employee of the veterinary service of the district will confirm the registration. Subsidiary farms will also have to identify cattle. To date, the identification system already has 2,927 cattle registered, 0,4% in total. Yes, the percentage is small. In other regions — Mordovia, Samara Oblast, Bashkortostan — this work began three years ago. We set the task: to identify all young animals from October," Garipov told.

According to the official of the ministry of agriculture, neighbouring regions started identification earlier, as they were considered unfavourable due to outbreaks of infections in animals. For example, in Bashkortostan, which was previously unsuccessful in this issue, 100% of the cattle population has been identified since 2018, in Samara Oblast — 20%, in Mordovia — 50%, in Ulyanovsk Oblast — 10%.

Seven hundred thousand head of cattle will have to be identified before the bill is adopted in 2021

According to the plan, the labelling of cattle in farms of all forms of ownership began on October 10 this year. Calves will be tagged in farms and private subsidiary farms within a day from the moment of birth — a specialist or owner of the farm will have to register them in the information system (which is already established in all regions of the Republic of Tatarstan, the Cabinet of Ministers assured). Then specialists of the State Veterinary Service will confirm the identification of the animal, and in the future, veterinarians will register mandatory veterinary and preventive measures (for example, vaccination) in the system.

The identification of livestock in private farmsteads will be organised during seasonal veterinary and preventive measures. At the moment, there are 290,000 head of cattle in private farmsteads, including 103,000 head of cows.

Breeding farms must be among the first to identify their animals — here all livestock must be marked with unified numbers, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture Lenar Garipov. In total, according to him, at the moment there are 699,400 head of cattle in the Republic of Tatarstan, 2,927 animals have been identified and registered in the registration programme. From October 2020, the marking of newborn young animals in agricultural organisations is only unified with 11-digit numbers. And agricultural departments in municipal districts daily transmit operational information on the identification of livestock in a certain form to the republican information and computing centre at the ministry of agriculture and food of Tatarstan.

For a tag for each new calf, they will have to pay from 50 to 100 rubles

The tag itself, which will be issued for each animal, will cost the farm 50 rubles (it must be purchased by the owners), and for agricultural enterprises — 100 rubles, “as tag is hung on one ear, and on another — electronic tag, with which the cow could then be identified”.

Subsequently, the ministry of agriculture specified, bee hives will be certified, “and not each bee separately”. Birds will be “identified by group method”, piglets — individually, despite their short life span. It turns out that if a farm has two or three cows, identification itself will not be a problem, but if a farmer has, for example, 1000 cows, it will cost him an impressive amount — 100,000 rubles. But if you give 100 rubles for each pig — and pigs are usually raised for slaughter quite quickly, and their livestock changes annually, the costs will be high for farmers.

Officials promised that the new system will not collapse, as Merkury system, designed for electronic certification of goods under state veterinary supervision, tracking their movement through the territory of the Russian Federation in order to create a unified information environment for veterinary medicine, improve biological and food safety, once failed. Today, representatives of agricultural departments noted, “we have great IT capacities”. The identification of dogs, according to officials, is primarily needed for neglected animals: some of these dogs have already been captured, neutered, identified and released back to forest parks.

No one will be forced to identify cattle, which will be dealt with in the Republic of Tatarstan before the adoption of the law on mandatory identification of animals in the Russian Federation, the authorities promised. But they warned that after the adoption of this bill, the sale of products without identification numbers will no longer be possible.

By Sergey Afanasyev
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