VICTORIAN sheep and goat producers have been allocated almost $690,000 of the $750,000 allocated to them for electronic identification software and equipment grants.
The producer grants are part of the $17 million transition package which has been committed to support the industry’s transition to the new mandatory electronic identification system for sheep and goats.
However, Practical Systems principal Mark Morton believes that with the amount already allocated for the producer portion of Victoria’s EID transition package, the opportunity for producers to take advantage of the support is running out.
He has suggested that many producers are yet to make their mind up on what hardware or software they might require, beyond the EID tags, and that there is a case for extending the funding.
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Agriculture Victoria staff have consistently said producers need only buy EID tags to comply, although producers who introduce sheep or goats not through the saleyard system will also need to scan EID tagged introduced stock and upload the details onto the NLIS database from March 31 2018.
Mr Morton believes the government should do more to encourage producers to buy into the processes that can be underpinned by EID tags, to improve production. However, an Agriculture Victoria spokesperson said sheep and goat farmers are not required to do anything other than tag their sheep. Any other equipment or infrastructure is optional, the spokesperson said.
Agriculture Victoria said it continued to deliver extension and education programs to assist producers understand their obligations and, for those that are interested, to explore the potential commercial opportunities and productivity improvements associated with EID.
“We’ve had over 1000 farmers attend these sessions, and will continue to work with the entire supply chain to roll out this important reform.”
The Victorian Government said today funding grants to support Victorian producers with the roll out of sheep and goat electronic identification have proven to be highly successful with the total amount for optional equipment nearing full allocation.
The steady stream of applications mean the funding, which covers costs up to 50 per cent of eligible equipment cost, is expected to be fully allocated in the next 4 to 6 weeks.
Agriculture Victoria’s director of sheep electronic identification Warren Straw, said the grants are a key part of the transition package and it’s been great to see how well producers have responded to this opportunity.
Given the early consensus that the electronic tagging reforms for sheep and goats should primarily be industry-led, the grants have proven to be a strong momentum builder to help producers identify and adopt the technological benefits of electronic tagging into their farm operations, Agriculture Victoria said. The majority of applications have been for wand and panel readers and have come from producers right across Victoria’s sheep-producing regions.
The success of the funding program indicates that there is a genuine interest amongst producers in the potential productivity and flock management gains of electronic identification, Agriculture Victoria said.
Portland district producer John Keiller said he had received a grant to help purchase an electronic tag panel reader.
“The reader will help us to record individual lambs at marking time and to follow the future production of twin born ewe lambs in our flock to lift our productivity,” Mr Keiller said.
In addition to the grant funding for optional equipment, all producers continue to benefit from the tag subsidies that are part of the transition package.