DELAYED completion of a national electronic sheep and goat ear tag procurement project is holding up the finalisation of tag prices for New South Wales producers, according to NSW Farmers Sheepmeat Committee chair vice-chair Floyd Legge.
Mr Legge said NSW Farmers is not happy with the current situation with Sheep Producers Australia announcing in February this year that it would have a report from a national procurement project finalised, but not releasing any findings.
“I’m pretty sure we were supposed to see the outcome of that initial in April or May, and we haven’t seen anything from them at all.
“We’re not happy with the fact that Sheep Producers Australia put out a consultation period to get the first round of information done and it is now far beyond the deadline that they said they would have their initial report to us,” he said.
“In my view, they are actually holding up the process of getting somewhere with tags simply because government has said it wanted the industry to take the lead on this.
“Sheep Producers has come forward to say we will do the investigation so therefore government has said we’re not going to step until industry has decided that they can’t do it,” Mr Legge said.
“So therefore I feel that Sheep Produces Australia is delaying their report are actually getting in the way of an eventual outcome whether it is industry that does it, or whether government needs to intervene and get something done instead.”
Mr Legge said the industry needed to see the conclusions of the SPA project.
“And if the conclusions are that they can’t do it, well they need to be honest and let us know that they can’t do it to allow somebody else to hop in the space, because time is ticking; it is less than 18 months form the national industry rollout of 1 January 2025.
“Tag price, because it is the recurring cost that producers have to wear annually, is the number one issue that producers talk about.”
The NSW Government last month announced a $38 million EID package with equipment rebates for producers, processors and saleyards, but nothing for ear tags. NSW Farmers Sheepmeat Committee chair Jenny Bradley then called on the NSW and Australian Governments to initiate a national tag tender to support the reduction of NLIS EID device costs. NSW Farmers policy seeks EID tags for sheep costing no more than $1 per tag
Sheep Producers Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner gave a national tag tender/ procurement update to the NSW Sheep and Goat Traceability Reference Group in late February this year and in March told Sheep Central that SPA had sought support from the Federal Government to develop and implement a suitable industry-led initiative to support national tag procurement for producers.
However, four months later, Sheep Central was told late last month that SPA’s independent consultation process with members and stakeholders is only “about to commence.”
Ms Skinner said Sheep Producers Australia has sought independent advice regarding a national tag procurement model and would be undertaking consultation with its members and a range of stakeholders.
The objective of the national procurement project is to evaluate sustainable models that would ensure that all sheep producers have access to equitably priced tags from multiple suppliers across Australia, as part of the mandatory national implementation of EID.
SPA said phase one of the project was received in late February 2023; however, SPA has not been prepared to disclose what independent advice it has received.
Sheep Central has been told that tag manufacturers can only reduce the price of tags by bypassing resellers either by selling direct to producers or by a subsidised rebate system.