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Effective January 1, 2021, all cattle must have ear tags and corresponding passports.

This move by the Government is to tighten enforcement measures under the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS).

Making his contribution to the 2020/2021 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on July 2, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson, said the requirement will help in the fight against praedial larceny, which costs farmers approximately $6 billion annually.

“All cattle owners, therefore, now have six months to access the free ear tags and passports for each head of cattle. And we are urging them all to get those tags now. Tag your animals, so we can trace them and keep them out of the hands of the praedial thieves,” he said.

Mr. Hutchinson informed that over the coming weeks, the Agriculture Ministry, through its Veterinary Services Division, will be engaging with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in collaboration with the public health inspectorate, to strengthen compliance with the regulations “and to have adherence to jointly strengthen our resolve to ensure that no cattle meat is sold without the requisite checks and balances in accordance with the requirements of the law”.

He reminded that the NAITS, which has the potential to significantly curb praedial larceny, was primarily intended for the control of disease, food safety and the tagging and tracing of animals.

“Under the NAITS legislation, all cattle reared in Jamaica should have both the ear tags and the corresponding passport to identify the animal. So, there should be no movement of cattle from any one location to the next without those passports and the ear tags,” Mr. Hutchinson said.

In addition, the law stipulates that no public health inspector is permitted to inspect or certify any meat before an ante-mortem verification is done, which includes checking of the passport and the matching ear tags. This verification process is an essential aspect of the Ministry’s praedial larceny control programme.

Mr. Hutchinson pointed out, however, that there is no universal compliance with these requirements at this time, noting that to date, of the estimated population of some 76,000 cattle, approximately 50 per cent or 38,000 have been tagged.

“The time has come for stricter enforcement of the animal identification and traceability system to ensure that the stamping and certification of meat from cattle are conducted in accordance with the law,” he said.

Mr. Hutchinson noted that while the crime of praedial larceny is not an easy one to fight, “the Ministry, working with our industry partners, the judiciary and the constabulary force, is determined to confront and arrest this monster”.

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