Animal ID and monitoring

July deadline set to finalise new NLIS sheep and goat standards

Terry Sim, March 6, 2024










A DEADLINE for final endorsement of new National Livestock Identification System standards for sheep and goats has been set for July this year, after the SAFEMEAT Advisory Group failed to endorse a draft document.

The SAFEMEAT Advisory Group yesterday considered a paper seeking endorsement to progress the current draft NLIS Standards and Guidelines for Sheep and Goats for recommendation to SAFEMEAT Partners.

However, the group, noting a small number of outstanding matters to be resolved, did not vote on the draft standards, but reached agreement to initiate a facilitated process to finalise them as a matter of high priority.

A SAFEMEAT Advisory Group communique said the process will aim to achieve unanimous agreement from all stakeholders with a deadline for final endorsement at the July 2024 meeting of SAFEMEAT Partners.

The process will be led by an independent facilitator and will engage relevant SAFEMEAT stakeholders – with a clearly defined scope of activities which are limited to outstanding matters, the communique said.

As part of that approach, key areas of agreement have been identified between industry and government stakeholders, as well as a commitment from SAFEMEAT members to achieve a standards implementation deadline of 1 January 2027 in all jurisdictions.

Victoria is the only jurisdiction who has not approved the draft standards and Sheep Central has been told the state has offered concessions on areas of concern, including the leg banding of some goats and vendor declarations for animals travelling to shows.

Sheep Central has been told all advisory group members except WoolProducers Australia, the Goat Industry Council of Australia and Cattle Australia were prepared to endorse the draft standards. NSW Farmers have also urged industry bodies to reject the draft standards until agreement is reached with Victoria.

Advisory group decision vindicates WoolProducers concern

Advisory group observer WoolProducers said the decision not to endorse the draft NLIS standards acknowledged that further work is required to achieve national harmonisation for the roll-out of electronic devices (EIDs).

WoolProducers chief executive officer Jo Hall said the advisory group’s decision to try to find a way forward in achieving national harmonisation vindicated WoolProducers’ concerns “about the piecemeal approach being taken by jurisdictions with the rollout of EIDs for sheep including the draft standards.”

“WoolProducers made the decision to withdraw support to highlight the fact that the opportunity to deliver a robust national traceability system was being wasted, and if the process was not going to result in truly national harmonisation it was going to come at a significant cost to producers with no net gains in national biosecurity outcomes.”

“The board of WoolProducers could not, in good faith, continue to support the process as it stood,” Ms Hall said.

Ms Hall said while WoolProducers welcomes the advisory group decision and the agreement of a clear path forward, it will not be pressured into agreeing to anything for the sake of meeting a deadline.

“We have seen far too often poor policy decisions being made to accommodate external timeframes.

“To reiterate, we currently have the opportunity to deliver a fit-for-purpose national traceability system and it therefore must be done properly and not just to suit an arbitrary date.” Ms Hall said.

“If this process delivers on its aim of unanimous agreement from relevant stakeholders to achieve nationally consistent minimum traceability standards, WoolProducers will be one step closer to recommitting to supporting the roll-out of EIDs, however it is too early to commit to anything yet.

“While it was surprising that there were still some organisations who were willing to endorse the draft standards, even in the absence of national harmonisation, WoolProducers are very pleased that the majority of advisory group members were willing to work towards a beneficial outcome.” Ms Hall said.

Full members of the advisory group include Primesafe, Australian Dairy Farmers Ltd, Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council Ltd, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, Australian Meat Industry Council, Australian Pork Limited, Australian Renderers Association, Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Australian Livestock Markets Association, Cattle Australia, Sheep Producers Australia, Goat Industry Council of Australia, state and territory meat industry and agriculture authorities, and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.


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