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Ag Ministers set 1 January 2025 start for mandatory sheep EID

Terry Sim, September 22, 2022

Lambs with electronic ear tags.

AUSTRALIA’S State and Federal Governments are working toward mandatory implementation of a national electronic identification system for sheep and goats by 1 January 2025.

In the virtual Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting of 9 September Australia’s agriculture and primary industries ministers discussed the importance of jointly designing the implementation with industry through the new Sheep and Goat Traceability Taskforce.

The government-industry taskforce has been established under the National Biosecurity Committee.

“To maintain momentum on this work, Ministers agreed to work with industry towards mandatory implementation of national individual electronic identification for sheep and goats in each jurisdiction by 1 January 2025 and that officials will report back to ministers on matters relating to implementation and governance arrangements,” the communique said.

“Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to working collaboratively to ensure the successful implementation of this important reform.”

The agreement on 9 September follows in-principle agreement for a national industry-led EID system roll-out at the 20 July 2022 AMM meeting. However, several issues need clarification, including finalisation of a cost-sharing arrangement, consistent business rules between states and agreement by the various State Farming Organisations to mandatory implementation.

Last month, New South Wales Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said proposed dates for state and territory governments to finalise cost-sharing for the SAFEMEAT recommendation actions and start/completion dates for EID tagging of sheep and goats were being worked on “as a matter of priority.”

State farming organisations, and peak wool and sheep producer bodies have called for implementation of the national EID infrastructure recommendations made by SAFEMEAT to the National Biosecurity Committee in 2020. The governments’ commitment to a mandatory national system address SAFEMEAT recommendation 3 and Mr Saunders’ office told Sheep Central on 22 June that work had also been completed on recommendation 1 – the establishment of a regulatory or statutory entity responsible for managing Australian livestock traceability.

The outstanding SAFEMEAT recommendations relate to investment into a database capable of handling all FMD susceptible livestock species (2), creating an equitable funding arrangement for both the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the system (4) and, recommendation 5, that a consultation Regulatory Impact Statement be conducted to fully assess the impact of these recommendations to provide a fully costed decision paper to AGMIN (now AMM).

Tag manufacturers have also expressed concerns about the impact of the mandatory system start date on production capability and whether there will be a requirement for all small stock on farms – sheep, goats and other species – to be EID-tagged by the implementation date or only 2024-drop animals.

The 9 September AMM meeting was chaired by federal Minister for Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Senator Murray Watt. Also attending was Mr Saunders, Victorian Minister for Agriculture Gayle Tierney, Queensland’s Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner, Western Australia’s Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan, South Australia’s Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven, Tasmania’s Minister for Primary Industries and Water Jo Palmer, the Australian Capital Territory’s Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti and the Northern Territory’s deputy chief executive officer, Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade Luke Bowen.

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