Sheep and goat farmers from NSW have reaffirmed their opposition to the introduction of mandatory electronic tagging in Victoria, warning that the lack of government consultation on the proposed new system could damage the integrity of the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).
In a submission to the Victorian government’s consultation on its new electronic NLIS (Sheep and Goats) system, the NSW Farmers’ Association raised concerns about how farmers both in Victoria and interstate would be impacted as the Victorian government rushes to implement an electronic tagging system before the looming deadline of 1 January 2017.
The submission highlighted alarm at the lack of genuine consultation from the Victorian government, particularly in the context of the broader national policy and market access implications arising from this decision.
NSW Farmers suggests that any move to improve traceability should be approached at a national level with cooperation and consultation from all states. Significant interstate trade between NSW and Victoria (as well as other states) means that electronically tagged sheep from Victoria will be introduced into mobs operating under the current traceability system.
Farmers have serious concerns about the potential impact on the integrity of the NLIS and the inaccurate message about the integrity of our traceability systems that is now being sent to our valuable international markets. By abandoning the mob-based NLIS, Victoria is placing international markets at significant risk by signalling, incorrectly, that the current system cannot be improved.
Instead of introducing an entirely new traceability system, the Victorian government should focus on ensuring that information on the National Vendor Declaration is both complete and accurate, as well as mandating reporting of property-to-property transfers to provide for whole-of-life traceability.
NSW Farmers represents a number of livestock sectors across the state, including the sheepmeat, wool and goat industries. As approximately one third of the national sheep flock is located in NSW, producers are concerned about potential disruption to the current traceability system.
NSW Farmers opposes the introduction of mandatory electronic tagging on the basis that it will be unworkable and costly. While electronic tags are useful to some producers as a management tool, farmers should be able to make decisions on implementing technologies that are most suited to their particular farm business.