An electronic chip on Corsican cattle to avoid European aid fraud

published on Friday, December 23, 2022 at 4:57 p.m.

Fraud on European agricultural aid, fictitious livestock, stray cows or cows carrying bovine tuberculosis: faced with these scourges, Corsican cattle will now be equipped with “Bolus”, an inviolable electronic chip that will allow them to be identified.

Among the first volunteers, for this vast operation started on December 1 across the Mediterranean island, the animals of André Olivesi, in Petreto-Bicchisano (Corse-du-Sud).

“It shows the sincerity of our operation. We will see that there is a follow-up” and that our herd “exists” well, explains Antoine Olivesi, his brother, in reference to the legal cases of fraud in aid from the Common Agricultural Policy ( PAC) experienced by the island.

Guided one by one down a corridor made of logs to immobilize them at the entrance to the meadow, André and Antoine Olivesi’s animals find themselves facing Jo Galezi, a technician at the Regional Directorate for Food, agriculture and forestry (Draaf). And this one to put in their throat a long metal rod with, at its end, the chip, arranged in a ceramic cylinder of seven centimeters, which works without battery.

“It’s a Bolus launcher. It allows us to inject the chip into the animal’s throat by passing on the side of the mouth”, explains to AFP Julien Ovaert, coordinator of this project. Bolus in Corse-du-Sud.

The cylinder then falls “into the rumen, the first stomach of the cow”, and it will “stay there for life, in the animal”, continues the one who will supervise the operation on “some 20,000 cattle spread over 430 farms what is Corsica-du-Sud”.

For the time being, only 8% of the breeders concerned have refused. At the end of October, the Chamber of Agriculture of Haute-Corse and the agricultural union FDSEA 2B criticized the imposition of the bolus, during a press conference, preferring an alternative system, according to them, more reliable and “guarantor of the well-being to be an animal”.

To ensure the correct positioning of the chip, Mr. Ovaert approaches a reading stick against the side of the animal. A “beep” sounds, the device instantly indicates its identification number. Successful operation.

– “Health traceability” –

The installation took less than 30 seconds per head, much to the breeder’s surprise: “It went well. I thought it was going to be much longer and more complicated, but it was fast, it It’s a good thing,” André Olivesi told AFP, observing his bull surrounded by several calves quietly eating fodder.

Corsica “is the only region” of France “where the Bolus will be compulsory to obtain, from October 2023, animal aid” from the CAP, specifies Pierre Bessin, director of the Draaf de Corse.

This individual identification of each animal, the cost of which (1.7 euros excluding tax per animal) and the implementation are for the moment fully covered by the State, “will also condition the allocation by 2024 or 2025 compensatory allowance for natural handicaps (ICHN)”, another European agricultural aid. And it will be compulsory to bring its animals to the slaughterhouse, told AFP Lia Bastianelli, head of the Bolus project at the Draaf de Corse.

This chip “will make fraud and fictitious farms much more difficult”, she assures, specifying that “this operation of re-identification of the entire cattle herd in Corsica” will also allow “sanitary traceability of the herds, in a island where bovine tuberculosis circulates”.

“Painless for the animal”, this device already widely used in Spain and Portugal will also make it possible to fight against animal wanderings and thefts of animals, in a particularly extensive Corsican breeding, notes Ms. Bastianelli.

In total, Corsican production of livestock and meat (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens) represents 10% of the 256 million euros of total agricultural production in Corsica, driven by plant production (80%) and in particular wine and fruit.

On its own, “the cattle sector captures 40% of public aid, and the number of breeders has exploded, from 900 in 2015 to 1,200 today, with production which nevertheless continues to decrease”, underlined in May 2021 Sabine Hofferer, the previous Draaf from Corsica, who worked on setting up these Bolus.

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An electronic chip on Corsican cattle to avoid European aid fraud

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