NEW South Wales farmers will next week consider an urgency motion to support national mandatory sheep electronic identification as Foot-and-Mouth-Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease outbreaks continue in Indonesia.
Current NSW Farmers policy supports voluntary sheep and goat EID for on-farm management, and enhancement of the current mob-based system to improve accuracy.
The association led by president James Jackson has opposed the introduction of mandatory individual electronic identification for sheep and goats.
However, after consulting with its sheep meat and wool committees, the association has proposed the urgency motion to its annual policy-making conference next week, recognizing the heightened FMD and LSD risk and that effective livestock traceability can shorten the life and minimize the impact of any outbreak.
The NSW Farmers’ Annual Conference returns will be held at Sydney’s Luna Park from 19-21 July.
The NSW Farmers urgency motion reads:
To adequately protect Australian agriculture and the sheep industry from the threat of a serious biosecurity incursion, NSW Farmers supports:
The national adoption of EIDs in a manner that is both financially and practically implementable and ensures the long-term sustainability and profitability of our valuable export markets;
The use of EIDs to proactively minimise the impacts of any possible disease outbreak;
Capping the price of EIDs at 70c;
Cost recovery for the implementation of on-farm technology to utilise EID’s; and
A staged rollout of EIDs over a five (5) year period
Sheep and goat EID is mandatory in Victoria, but lack of support for a mandatory sheep EID system by the other state farming organisations has been a major obstacle to progress toward a national scheme.
NSW Farmers, Queensland’s AgForce and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia have been most vocal in their opposition to a mandatory sheep and goat EID system, despite its introduction for cattle several years ago.
The SFOs have continued to support the current mob-based visual tag National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats despite evidence it is not meeting National Traceability Performance Standards set to ensure authorities could effectively trace livestock movement in the event of an exotic disease incursion.
A NSW Farmers spokesman said in light of the Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease outbreaks in Indonesia, Australian agriculture faces a growing threat of a serious biosecurity incursion.
“As a matter of urgency, NSW Farmers members will be asked to vote at our Annual Conference on whether to adopt EIDs for sheep in a manner that is both financially and practically implementable and ensures the long-term sustainability and profitability of our valuable export market.
“NSW Farmers members set the policy of the association, and it is important to get their decision before any further comment is made,” the spokesman said.
Federal Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt reportedly told The Guardian this week that a number of states and farming groups were yet to back the extension of mandatory electronic tracing to sheep and goats, even though it has proven to be an effective biosecurity tool in the cattle industry.
NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said he recently wrote to Minister Watt, industry and key stakeholders seeking their advice on transitioning to an electronic ID-based system for sheep in NSW.
“Individual traceability will not only be crucial during an emergency disease outbreak, but will also see benefits across the supply chain, back to the farm gate.
“I will have more to say on this matter soon,” Mr Saunders said.
National peak bodies support EID reform
WoolProducers Australia president and NSW wool grower Ed Storey said the NSW Farmers urgency motion was a matter for the association’s members.
“But I would encourage them to consider the word ‘cost’ in a holistic way.”
He said the overall costs of the system should be considered in terms of the value it brought to producers and for market access in coming years.
“We need to use the technology that is here now and this is an opportunity to improve on the current system.
“However EIDs are only one facet of these reforms, there are a number of other measures, starting with the agreement and implementation of a nationally harmonised set of business rules between the states, the establishment of a multi species database and robust cost sharing agreements between industry and governments that must be done to establish a fit-for-purpose national traceability system,” he said.
“It is those support systems that will ensure its success just they do in Victoria.”
Sheep Producers Australia chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner said SPA supports the implementation of national traceability reform that includes the implementation of EID for sheep.
“There have been at least 11 reports since 2002 recommending improvement of traceability systems or the implementation of EID.
“Traceability is a key component of a robust biosecurity system and allows the quick and effective tracking and tracing of animals in the event of a disease outbreak such as FMD,” she said.
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