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Queensland tightens laws to curb rise in goat theft

Sheep Central, January 12, 2022

Rangeland goats in western New South Wales sporting ear tags. image – AuctionsPlus.

AGFORCE and the nation’s peak farmed goat body have welcomed tighter regulations for wild game harvesting in a bid to stamp out the theft of commercial goats across Queensland.

Under amendments that came into force today, wild animal harvesters must obtain a signed consent form from landholders.

The changes were introduced following a rise in goat thefts – sparked by soaring meat prices – and have been driven by Safe Food Production Queensland to place greater onus on wild animal harvesters and processors.

AgForce said Queensland Major and Organised Crime Squad (Rural) figures show the number of goats stolen has almost doubled in the past 12 months, with 429 head reported stolen in the state last year compared to 220 head in 2020.

With cases of both stolen and legal goat carcasses being processed through kangaroo chiller box facilities, concerns have been raised over animal traceability, AgForce said.

AgForce Sheep and Wool Board president Mike Pratt said he hoped tighter regulations would curb the problem, but urged producers to ear tag kids at marking time and to remain vigilant and report all suspicious activities to police.

“The domestic goat market in Australia has gone from strength to strength over the past decade, and Queensland has been a key player with many producers receiving prices upwards of $10 per kilogram,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the downside of that is that we are seeing callous individuals trying to cash in by taking what isn’t theirs.

“Some producers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result, and, as well as the financial implications, there is an emotional toll, with many producers left devastated,” he said.

AgForce representative on the Goat Industry Council of Australia, Western Meat exporters managing director Campbell McPhee, applauded the changes and as a goat processor would support similar moves in New South Wales.

Mr McPhee said with the increasing requirement for traceability, ear tagging of goats is what is being looked for as the industry matures.

GICA president John Falkenhagen said stock theft is also occurring in New South Wales.

“We’ve all got to stamp out stock theft, be it sheep cattle or goats.”

Mr Falkenhagen said the tagging of goats is increasing as the farmed goat industry grows.

“As the industry transitions from a harvested system to a semi-managed system it (ear tagging) is going to happen organically.

“When you are seeing prices of $10.20/kg hot carcase weight, they are fairly valuable animals.””

AgForce said tighter regulations mean that the food safety programs and management statements of wild animal supply chain businesses must now ensure compliance with the following:

  • All wild game harvesters are required to obtain written consent from each landholder where harvesting of wild game is undertaken.
  • The consent form must contain contact details for the landholder and list the species of wild game permitted to be harvested on the property.
  • The consent forms for each landholder must always be carried by field harvesters when in possession of wild game carcasses.
  • All Safe Food accredited field depot operators and wild game processors that source field shot wild goats must retain a copy of the consent form on file and contact the landholder within 48hrs of receipt. This will verify the accuracy of the information on carcass tags and consent forms before the animals are sent or presented for further processing.

Mr Pratt said the crackdown was a welcome step in the right direction, and encouraged landholders to ensure they have a signed consent form prior to allowing a harvester on to their property.

“We commend efforts by Safe Food Production Queensland to deter this illegal trade, and look forward to working with them to help protect the State’s commercial goat industry,” he added.

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