Lamb Production

NLIS visual tag system can meet sheep and goat traceability standards, but is it?

Terry Sim December 8, 2016
SAFEMEAT Partners chairman Ross Keane

SAFEMEAT Partners chairman Ross Keane

AUSTRALIA’S current visual ear tag-based National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats can meet required traceability performance standards, according to the unreleased Sheepcatcher II exercise report.

The full report was considered by the National Livestock Identification System Sheep and Goat Advisory Committee yesterday and has been passed onto SAFEMEAT Partners for consideration.

SAFEMEAT Partners chairman Ross Keane said today he has not read the full Sheepcatcher II report and understood it would now be considered by the partnership members, including the Sheepmeat Council of Australia.

“I understand that the report has indicated that the existing NLIS system covering sheep and goats is able to meet the requirements of the traceability performance standards,” he said.

“The findings have indicated there is some improvement since a similar exercise was conducted in 2007,” Mr Keane said.

“We will take the opportunity now to consider the report, as will the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, and we might consider some enhancements to the system to support continuous improvement.

“But the fact is, there is improvement.”

Mr Keane would not be drawn on whether there had been traceability improvements in all states or whether the current visual ear tag-based system is meeting national traceability standards now in all states.

“It (Sheepcatcher II) was never done as a state-by-state thing; it was done as national exercise.

“It was done as a national exercise to compare to 2007,” he said.

“It clearly states that it can meet the traceability standards, I’m led to believe that, in the points I’ve been given.”

Mr Keane said the Sheepcatcher II report would not be released until it was considered by the relevant industry groups, including the Goat Industry Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia.

“We (SAFEMEAT Partners) are not due to meet until June (2017) but we will be doing this out-of-session between now and then.”

But Mr Keane believed the SAFEMEAT II report will be released, possibly by March next year.

“Before SAFEMEAT Partners releases it, they will get consultation from the peak councils involved.”

NLIS committee recommended report go to industry

NLIS Sheep and Goat Advisory Committee chairman Ian Feldtmann said members had commented on the report and its recommendations, and sent these to Safemeat Partners.

“It is SAFEMEAT’s report, we are only a child of SAFEMEAT.

“We’ve asked SAFEMEAT to look at this report as early as possible and make comment on it,” he said.

“We say that it needs to go out to the industry, but it is SAFEMEAT’s call as to when and how they do that.

“We’ve recommended that communication is an important part of it.”

The Sheepcatcher II exercise was held from June 2 till July 5 to assess the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats against the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards.

The exercise involved the tracking of 60 sheep and goats selected from various points in the national production system, including saleyards and abattoirs. It was carried out by SAFEMEAT, the state and territory departments of agriculture from all jurisdictions (except the NT) and Animal Health Australia. Information gathered in the exercise is to be used to guide future improvements of the NLIS for sheep and goats.

As the most up-to-date assessment of the NLIS traceability system for sheep, the Sheepcatcher II report is expected to indicate whether all states are meeting national performance standards.

In October 2014, the states and territories agreed to make improvements either by enhancing the current mob based system or by introducing EID, based on analysis of the initial traceability and implementation costs in their jurisdiction. The states agreed to achieve 98 percent short-run traceability and 95pc long-run traceability through ongoing monitoring, with business rules being reviewed to ensure performance standards are met.

The ministers also agreed the costs and benefits of transitioning to an Electronic identification (EID) system will be reviewed within four years.

There are some industry concerns the Sheepcatcher II report’s results could undermine Australia’s international food safety and biosecurity reputation or put pressure on other states to follow Victoria’s lead in mandating electronic sheep and goat identification. Sheep Central has been told the previous Sheepcatcher I report was never publicly released.


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