Australia to roll out a national sheep and goat EID system

Terry Sim, July 21, 2022

Federal Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt addressing the NSW Farmers conference this week.

AUSTRALIA’S federal, state and territory governments have decided to roll out a national sheep and goat electronic identification system, Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt confirmed today.

Mr Watt told Sheep Central that agreement had been reached yesterday between all state and territory governments and the federal government on rolling out a national sheep EID system.

Australia’s agriculture and primary industries ministers yesterday met in Canberra at the nation’s first AMM meeting in several months.

“We had a really good meeting between myself and all of the state and territory Agriculture Ministers, and we had an extremely productive discussion about what we can do to ramp up our biosecurity measures together,” Mr Watt said.

“Sheep traceability is an important part of that.

“We’ve now got a system across the country for cattle, but we haven’t got it in place for sheep at the moment – a couple of the states have been resisting that up until now,” he said.

“I was really pleased that yesterday we basically reached agreement that we are going to roll this out nationwide.

“We’ve now got to work through who’s going to pay for it, how it’s going to be done and things like that,” Mr Watt said.

“But for the first time, we’ve been able to get agreement between all state and territory governments and the federal government that this is something we should do.

“It’s something that sheep producers have been calling for for a long period of time, because it’s another really important biosecurity step.”

The national government consensus on a national sheep EID system follows SAFEMEAT and industry recommendations and lobbying by NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders. It came on the same day that NSW Farmers also gave in-principle support for a national sheep EID system at their annual conference.

Sheep EID is mandatory in Victoria, but all other states have a visual tag mob-based systems that trials have shown do not meet National Traceability Performance Standards for quick and accurate biosecurity traceback of stock.

Before yesterday’s AMM meeting Mr Watt welcomed Mr Saunders’ support for the electronic tagging of sheep.

“We do have tagging of cattle and certain other industries in place at the moment, but sheep is a gap in the system.

“And, again, the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease shows that we need to be taking all steps we possibly can, and that includes tagging of livestock, particularly when it comes to sheep,” Mr Watt said.

National framework to be worked out with industry

Mr Saunders office today said the NSW Government had received unanimous support for the development of a national, industry-led mandatory sheep and goat EID system during a meeting of Australian Agriculture Ministers yesterday.

Mr Saunders said there is now a strong mandate to start working on how best to implement a national system for sheep and goats.

“Individual traceability for sheep and goats will be critical in the event of an emergency disease outbreak like Foot and Mouth Disease in Australia.

“Today’s agreement is a major leap towards closing all gaps in our national biosecurity system,” he said.

“Recent detections of Foot and Mouth Disease fragments in Melbourne and Adelaide are a frightening reminder of the need to ramp up our biosecurity controls.

“It’s also great to see NSW Farmers throw their weight behind a national EID system for sheep and goats during an emergency vote at their annual conference this week,” he said.

“This shows great collaboration from industry and producers to address the Foot and Mouth Disease threat at our border.”

Mr Saunders said a national framework will be urgently developed by federal and state agricultural departments with industry input for consideration at the next meeting of agriculture ministers.

“My commitment to sheep and goat producers is that they will have their voices heard during all stages of the implementation and development of a national traceability system.”

Mr Saunders also welcomed an announcement yesterday by the federal government to add sanitiser foot mats at all international airports in Australia, along with confirmation that foot mats will also be rolled out at departure terminals in Indonesia.

“NSW has been prosecuting the case for increased biosecurity measures like foot mats at international airports, and while the steps taken by the federal government are positive, there is definitely more that can be done to protect our shores.

“I am concerned to hear about travellers coming back from Indonesia who are not being stopped and checked for traces of the FMD virus, which is why I’ll continue to call for 100 per cent of people returning from hot spots like Bali to have their luggage inspected thoroughly,” he said.

WoolProducers welcomes national agreement on sheep EID

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said the peak body welcomes the agreement by state and Commonwealth governments that sheep traceability is going to be rolled out on a national basis.

“A truly national identification system will enhance biosecurity which is crucial to minimise the impacts of disease on our industry.

“In keeping with our policy, it is now incumbent on all levels of government to work with, and listen to industry in regards to developing a nationally harmonised system, which must include equitable cost sharing between industry and government stakeholders for both the establishment and maintenance of this system, along with the development of a database that can handle all FMD susceptible species,” she said.

Harmonisation and centralisation needed – Sheep Producers Australia

Sheep Producers Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner said the peak body welcomes and applauds the united agreement to support a national system for the traceability of sheep and goats.

“SPA has been advocating for broad traceability reform of which EID is a vital component, since SAFEMEAT’s recommendations were proposed to the National Biosecurity Committee in 2020.

“Underpinning the evolution of a traceability system must be the harmonisation of traceability standards and centralisation to create a truly national system,” she said.

“SPA will continue to collaborate and support the government to work with industry, stakeholders, and producers to implement a national system that works for everyone throughout the supply chain.

“The leadership shown by our government and commitment to drive reform of national livestock traceability systems has the potential to deliver a legacy that secures the livelihoods of Australia’s 434,000 red meat and livestock workers for generations to come,” Ms Skinner said

“Australia’s biosecurity system protects our economy, our environment, and the way of life of all Australians.”



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  1. Pauline Draper, August 2, 2022

    Merely another cost to the producer.

  2. John Bodey, July 26, 2022

    About bloody time.

  3. Robin Steen, July 23, 2022

    It is certainly inevitable. But my question to the Victorian Government is how effective is the transfer and traceability of the tags in abattoirs due to technical IT and compatibility problems?
    I’m hearing there are still considerable problems and these need to be sorted first so the industry can have confidence going forward that they have a good system in place that can deliver the high percentage of the traceability that is required.

  4. Robert Ingram, July 22, 2022

    A massive technological paradigm shift for the sheep, and especially the wool, industry. The digital age has only been going for what — 40 years.

  5. Samantha Dulfer, July 22, 2022

    After just ordering countless tags in different colors we will be wasting these tags. Who will pay for the new electronic tags? We have been slammed with fire, flood, flood, the COVID pandemic and now the costs of inflation and fuel. It’s not so simple to ask producers to foot the bill while it’s unlikely the producers pose the greatest threat. The greatest threat comes from pet and hobby owners who are unaware and those who choose to be negligent because they are “only pets”.

  6. Tom Casey, July 22, 2022

    As usual it will be more cost for producers. It seems there is still a lot of manual scanning being done at saleyards. I assume the abattoir systems can’t handle the numbers as well. But at least the interstate sheep will have to have EID now, whereas before they were getting sold in our saleyards with no EID. A lot of interstate sheep come through Victorian processors. I wonder what it costs us for the scanning at saleyards? I remember when it came in with then Agriculture Minister Jayla Pulford saying the tags will remain cheap because of their procurement, just another Labor bs story.

  7. Tim Leeming, July 22, 2022

    Better late than never.

    • Brad Bellinger, July 22, 2022

      The Australian Beef Association condemns the actions of the peak councils in lobbying government with false and misleading information concerning the efficacy of electronic tags in providing a reliable tracking mechanism for livestock.

      • John Bodey, July 26, 2022

        Fortunately Victoria has led the way on sheep identification. The nanny state has been a “test crash dummy” of sorts for sheep NLIS. Now the rest of Australia can learn from Victoria’s mistakes; learn from the best to run with sheep and goat identification.

        • Iain Field, July 27, 2022

          I hope there will be some consultation and research for implementing the strategy for goats. As a goat farmer, the experience we have had with any tag retention is poor at best and has ended in a waste of resources and animal health issues.

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