AUSTRALIA’S sheep meat industry is searching for someone to lead a program to enhance the traceability performance of the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats.
Sheepmeat Council of Australia and SAFEMEAT are partnering in the search for a chairperson for the new SAFEMEAT Sheep Traceability Working Group, charged with the task of enhancing the National Livestock Identification System for Sheep and Goats.
The Sheepmeat Council of Australia said the working group will comprise industry and government representatives and will make further enhancements to the current system by increasing auditing, communications and research and development.
The working group will implement the recommendations SAFEMEAT agreed to in its response to the SheepCatcher II report, including development of a communications strategy, R&D and increased auditing.
It is not known which states or industry bodies have committed funding to the traceability enhancement project. But part of implementing the SAFEMEAT endorsed activities will include determining funding models and options, the SCA said. The chairperson, secretariat and the working group meeting expenses will be funded by industry.
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SCA chief executive officer Dr Kat Giles says the working group’s chair position is vital in implementing a strong response to the areas for improvement identified.
“Fundamentally we need a traceability system that meets the performance standards,” Dr Giles said.
“SheepCatcher II showed that there has been improvement since the first SheepCatcher exercise and that traceability performance standards can be met by the current system. As an industry, we need to make those improvements now.
“SAFEMEAT will be assessing the effect of the enhancements through an exercise to be completed by July 2020.”
Dr Giles says SCA has led the charge since the report’s release to co-ordinate a national approach to improving the system by working with SAFEMEAT Partners
“SCA remains committed to disease control, food safety and ensuring that the products produced are trusted for their safety and their integrity, and are known to have come from farms that care for their sheep and for the environment in which they are raised,” she said.
“Recruiting a proven leader with a strong understanding of NLIS for sheep and goats and drivers of future industry growth will be integral to this process.”
The Sheepcatcher II report by Animal Health Australia and partially released by SAFEMEAT earlier this year said that in its current form, the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats is unlikely to provide optimum support for an effective response in a real ‘whole of life’ infectious disease outbreak.
However, rather than follow Victoria’s initiative, and the cattle industry, in pursuing national mandatory livestock EID, the SAFEMEAT Partners have seized upon the improvements in NLIS compliance since 2007 to seek renewed enhancement of the visual tag mob-based sheep and goat system.
The SAFEMEAT Partners have also recommended that an interim tracing exercise be conducted in 2020 to assess the mob-based and EID components of the national traceability system, and the improvements to the current visual system implemented following Sheepcatcher II.
Click here to read the SAFEMEAT partners responses to the Sheepcatcher II recommendations.