AGRIBUSINESS Australia chairman Mark Allison has come out in support of a national electronic identification system for sheep and goats as the nation faces an increased risk of an exotic disease incursion.
In an AA editorial ‘Foot and Mouth Disease – a risk for all areas’, Mr Allison, also Elders’ chief executive officer, said the risk of an FMD incursion is great.
Mr Allison said a resilient industry is the key to riding the waves of pandemic threats.
Although he said from Australia’s electronic monitoring and reporting through to its natural ocean barrier and the nation is well-placed to defend itself from FMD, Mr Allison said the Australian agricultural industry and its representative bodies have to prepare for the worst-case scenario — an outbreak.
“At present, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep/goats is based on a mob-based system,” he said.
“This system lacks the efficacy of the cattle industry’s electronic individual identification (EID) tag system.
“Electronic tracking can drastically speed up the process of tracking and tracing compared to visually identified animals,” he said.
Only Victoria has mandated the use of electronic ear tags to identify sheep and goats, while all other states have persisted with a visual tag mob-based system that trials have shown does not meeting National Traceability Performance Standards.
Mr Allison said the introduction of EID and associated systems for tracking and tracing sheep/goats would greatly increase the speed of tracing animals during an outbreak of FMD (or other exotic diseases).
“In the event of an outbreak of FMD, we would immediately lose a large number of our premium livestock markets.
“The longer an outbreak takes to be controlled, the longer we are shut out of premium markets,” he said.
“Australian agriculture needs to use all the technology and systems available to protect our markets and rural communities.”
Click here to read Mr Allison’s full Agribusiness Australia editorial.
Mr Allison’s comments should be well received. His comments on this matter are timely; Australia is in a flock re-build and increasingly global and domestic markets are raising the bar on consumer expectations. The tags will only enhance our sustainability and traceability credentials and continue to ensure and support our global status as a premium producer of sheep/lamb and goat meat.