‘Positive progress’ on sheep and goat NLIS tag traceability

Terry Sim May 25, 2015
Sheep eID will be discussed at the Sheep CRC field day.

Sheep eID will be discussed at the Sheep CRC field day.

Most Australian states have reported “positive progress” toward achieving agreed traceability targets for the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats, Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said today.

No changes to the current sheep and goat tagging systems across Australia were believed to have been proposed at a meeting of Australian and New Zealand primary industries minister in Sydney last week.

Before the third meeting of the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum (AGMIN) on May 22, Mr Joyce said it provided a strategic forum to continue to work with state and territory counterparts on progressing the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats.

Reporting to AgMin on the progress to achieving NLIS targets was part of the original agreement reached between the jurisdictions, he said.

“Most states recorded positive progress to achieving the targets within the existing arrangements.”

Traceability level details not released

State primary industries ministers provided updates at the meeting without providing specific timelines. It is not known if any state has yet achieved the short and long-run traceability targets or was likely to before a planned review in four years.

A Department of Agriculture communique released after the meeting said that ministers “noted the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats, and agreed the NSW Farm Incursions Policy be used as a useful reference to address farm trespass issues.

“There was agreement that a consistent approach to farm trespass was important in maintaining the integrity of the biosecurity system and ensuring farmers were offered the same entitlements to privacy as the broader community.”

States have agreed on traceability targets

In October last year, 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. A statement from Mr Joyce’s office then said that each jurisdiction will aim for improved traceability, either by enhancing the current mob-based system or by introducing electronic identification ear tags.

Previous Victorian and Queensland primary industries ministers showed interest in moving to the electronic tagging, while all other states have supported the mob-based system.

Supporters of electronic tagging of sheep highlight potential biosecurity and disease traceability issues with the current paper and mob-based breeder tagging system, especially with traded lines including multiple PICs or where tag PICs don’t match national vendor declarations. Processors and agents also struggle at times to link PICS on tags with post-sale summaries and NVDs.

Opponents of mandatory electronic tags, including the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, want an investigation into the costs of an eID system for saleyards and abattoirs encompassing scanning and labour costs, reading accuracy and efficiency, and compliance with the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards, animal welfare needs and OH&S. ALPA also has a policy of enhancing the current visual tag system with the optional use of transaction tags on non-vendor bred sheep.


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  1. Nick McBride, May 26, 2015

    I urge all sheep and goat producers to support the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association to oppose mandatory electronic tags in sheep and goats.
    We are an export-based industry meeting the world markets and the only control we have is keeping our cost of production as low as possible.

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