SHEEP Producers Australia has proposed an independent analysis of Victoria’s mandatory electronic ear tag identification system for sheep and goats prior to consideration of its national roll-out.
Following a statewide tour including a Victorian saleyard, abattoir and farm using sheep EID systems, SPA today released a report summarising key learnings, including elements which would need consideration if the system was to be successfully rolled out nationally.
The tour group included representatives of SPA, WoolProducers Australia, state farming organisations and a state traceability representative, who visited The Australian Lamb Company abattoir at Colac, a Shelford property using EID for on-farm management and the Ballarat saleyard late last year.
SPA acting chief executive officer Stephen Crisp said the tour group concluded that the EID system being implemented in Victoria is on track to meet the requirements of the National Standards Traceability Performance Standards. However, it would be prudent to subject the system to independent testing to determine its performance compared to the mob-based system, the tour report said.
The report noted that should there be an agreement to roll out the EID system nationally, a costing estimate needed to be prepared to allow the Federal Government to consider a grant to allow abattoirs and saleyards to implement the equipment and software required.
The report said SPA has requested the SAFEMEAT Jurisdictional Traceability Working Group develop a methodology for testing the Victorian EID system, once property-to-property transfers have been implemented for 12 months.
SPA said the methodology to test the system must then be carried out by a truly independent body. Testing could potentially commence in April 2019 provided the methodology has been developed and approved. Once this testing has been completed a report will be sent to governments and industry bodies to facilitate consideration of the appropriateness of moving to a national EID based NLIS (S&G) system, SPA said.
Mr Crisp said SPA has not made any decision to move towards a national sheep and goat EID roll-out, nor is this currently before the SPA board as an option.
“There are a range of views as to whether the EID system should be made national.
“SPA’s role as a leader, and peak representative body, is to gain the best understanding of what has been put in place in Victoria, utilising it as a case study,” he said.
“The performance of the Victorian system and the real benefits to producers and industry as a whole need to be openly discussed and tested before any proposals are put forward for a national roll-out.”
Mr Crisp said the industry would benefit from independently testing the system to determine its performance compared with the mob-based system.
“Independent analysis would ensure that the benefits that were flagged before the Victorian EID roll-out, are actually being delivered,” he said.
“The report outlines that jurisdictional traceability staff who are responsible for the enforcement and compliance of NLIS in each state would be the appropriate group to determine the methodology needed to evaluate the system.”
The tour group also recommended the following elements need to be addressed if a national roll-out of EID was ever to be considered:
Price of tags and opportunities for a price reduction via a national tag tender or similar scheme and/or creating of a national online tag ordering service.
Carcase feedback from abattoirs and ownership of data collected by processors.
Assessment of infrastructure requirements and resource capability of abattoirs, saleyards and jurisdictions to determine funding needed to meet the requirements of an EID system.
Adequate extension prior to and during implementation, to all sectors but particularly to producers and agents, including promoting the benefits of an EID system such as on-farm management and rapid traceback in emergency situations.
Mr Crisp said these factors would be referred to the SAFEMEAT Sheep Traceability Working Group, established to implement improvements to the NLIS for Sheep and Goats recommended following the Sheepcatcher II traceability exercise in mid-2016. The tour group’s report is available for download at www.sheepproducers.com.au
Victorian Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes was unavailable for comment.