AN implementation framework for a national sheep and goat electronic identification system is expected to be discussed at the next national Agriculture Minister’s Meeting on September 9.
New South Wale’s Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said sheep and goat EID will play a critical role in the event of an emergency disease outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Australia.
Mr Saunders said this is why he took a proposal to the national Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting on July 20 for a national, industry-led roll-out.
“I was pleased to receive unanimous support from other jurisdictions on this proposal.
“Anyone with knowledge of the sheep and goat industry would know that the implementation of reform as significant as this will not happen overnight, and consultation with stakeholders and primary producers is integral to ensure we get this right,” he said.
Mr Saunders said it was also agreed at the 20 July AMM meeting that an implementation framework would be pulled together by senior agriculture officials from agencies across the country and presented at the next national Agriculture Minister’s Meeting.
Sheep Central has received feedback that sheep producers outside Victoria are calling for clarity on what will be expected of them before they go ahead and order tags for the Spring 2022 lambing, and tag manufacturers need to be able to forward plan manufacture.
Last month Mr Saunders told Sheep Central addressing the SAFEMEAT recommendations “is not a matter of deadlines.”
“It is a matter of agreeing nationally when and how best the SAFEMEAT recommendations will be implemented, with all states and territories implementing EID within a similar timeframe, where possible.
He 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.”
The latest AMM communique published on 29 July said ministers (on 20 July) have agreed in-principle to advance work on a national approach to Australia’s livestock traceability systems, “noting the urgent need for a national mandatory individual identification system for sheep and goats that is practical to implement, industry led and cost efficient (following Victoria’s earlier introduction of these arrangements).
“Officials have been tasked by ministers with further work on implementation options and funding arrangements – to be discussed between the Commonwealth, jurisdictions, and relevant industries, at the next AMM to be held in the coming weeks.”
State farming organisations, and peak wool and sheep producer bodies have also made calls for implementation of the national EID infrastructure recommendations made by SAFEMEAT to the National Biosecurity Committee in 2020. However, Sheep Central believes not all the SAFEMEAT recommendations were discussed at the 20 July meeting; only recommendation 3, that related to mandating individual digital/electronic identification of livestock. However, 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).
Victoria supports speedy roll-out
Agriculture Victoria chief executive officer Matt Lowe and co-chair of the state’s new Emergency Animal Disease Taskforce said this week Victoria was really keen to support a quick national roll-out of an electronic identification system for sheep and goats.
Mr Lowe said Victorian farmers should be really proud that Victoria is the only state with mandatory electronic identification of sheep and goats.
“This is a really important reform that happened in Victoria and now we think there is a really strong case for it to be rolled out nationally.
“When you get an outbreak, and it is quite possible with foot and mouth (disease), that because it moves so fast, when you detect it, it is not the first occurrence, so you need to know where it has come from and where those movements have happened.
“Traceability is critical.”
When he was asked if Victoria was at risk from livestock coming into the state that are not EID-tagged, Mr Lowe said jurisdictions that don’t have an electronic identification system for sheep and goats “are at greater risk than what we’ve got here.”
“That’s something that should give farmers a lot of confidence in Victoria, that there are a lot of really good biosecurity principles and systems in place that will support them to stay safe.”
Livestock SA to pursue state system within national roll-out
Livestock SA president Joe Keynes today said he supported a planned structured approach to implementing sheep EID in the state, ensuring all players were “on side.” He was meeting with the SA Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven this afternoon, but believed national implementation would take some time.
“Each jurisdiction is going to have to have a plan with a structured approach.”
After the last AMM meeting, Mr Keynes said he assumed that the South Australian Government would “tow the national line” and the state would implement sheep/goat EID in the state, but “roll out our own system.”
“I’m taking that from it and we at Livestock SA have already taken a view that it is going to happen one day.
“We’ve actually got a working group together across the whole supply chain and we will instigate a consultancy to look at the challenges and benefits and how we might roll it out in South Australia with the perspective that it will be a national system,” he said.
“It’s a state jurisdiction that implements it, so let us design one rather than have it imposed on us.”
Mr Keynes said Livestock SA had also been told by tag manufacturers that the electronic chips for EID tags were not available.
“So there is going to have to be a period of time to do the consultancy, get it right, get a national consistency and away we go.
“In South Australia, we are not calling for mandatory at the moment; we’re looking at the opportunities, the benefits and the costs.”