Farmers happy as changes to national animal ID scheme move step closer

Federated Farmers said the select committee members listened carefully.
Federated Farmers said the select committee members listened carefully. Photo credit: istock

Changes recommended by a Government select committee to the national livestock identification system have been welcomed by Federated Farmers.

In April, the Government announced plans to tighten up the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT), promising to clamp down on those who didn't comply.

It was prompted by the NAIT Review, released in 2018, and the M bovis Eradication Programme, which highlighted significant flaws in the scheme.

The proposed changes were expected to tighten rules for handling untagged animals, improve the use of data, align penalties with other Acts to reflect the seriousness of non-compliance, and make changes to the performance framework for the organisation running NAIT (NAIT Ltd).

A Primary Production Select Committee has been looking at the proposed changes, and has reported back to Parliament.

"It's clear that Select Committee members listened carefully to representations from Federated Farmers and others.," said Miles Anderson.
"It's clear that Select Committee members listened carefully to representations from Federated Farmers and others.," said Miles Anderson. Photo credit: Supplied

Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson said it was heartening that the committee had recommended logical and workable changes to NAIT legislation.

"It's clear that Select Committee members listened carefully to representations from Federated Farmers and others. As a result the NAIT Amendment Bill (No 2) reported back to the House last week is a step in the right direction," he said.

"Upfront is acknowledgment that changes to the NAIT Act are only part of the planned improvements to the identification and tracing system and that significant progress is still needed on operational and ease-of-use matters to ensure we have a system that is fit for purpose and able to deal with foreseeable future risks."

The original proposal suggested the Government would own the core data entered on NAIT, something Federated Farmers was opposed to.

"We felt that this was the Crown trying to appropriate private property without compensation and are happy the select committee is recommending this provision be removed."

"There was also a proposal to remove a provision for 'unsafe to tag' animals after five years, which was ill-conceived. The committee has seen this for what it was and has asked that after five years this be reviewed, not removed." 

Anderson said Federated Farmers was supportive of the drive to get NAIT working and to lift compliance rates as quickly as possible, but said it came with additional farmer obligations and liabilities as the process accelerated. 

"Even some experienced farmers still mistakenly believe that when they order animal ear tags coded with their PICA details, and fit them to the ears of their cattle, their job is done. There is another vital step - to get on the phone or computer and register them with NAIT, even if the animals are destined for the processing plant."

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