“SMART” New South Wales farmers who usually sell sheep and lambs into Victoria will be putting electronic ear tags in their livestock, Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock president Leonard Vallance said today.
NSW Farmers today said Victoria’s mandatory electronic sheep and goat tagging requirements are not needed in New South Wales, reiterating its “need to ensure that the Victorian tagging requirements are not imposed on NSW sheep and goat producers.”
From 1 January 2019 Victorian producers will have to ensure that all sheep and non-exempt goats are fitted with an electronic tag before leaving their Victorian property, including those bought interstate, unless they already have an EID tag. However, this places no mandatory EID tag obligations on NSW or other interstate producers, apart from continuing to meet their individual state requirements for tagging and identification of sheep and goats.
Chair of the NSW Farmers Sheep Committee Floyd Legge today also urged the Victorian government to undertake an independent assessment of the effectiveness of the Victorian EID sheep and goat tagging system.
“Given Victoria is operating on a different traceability system to the rest of Australia, it must review the system to ensures it operates effectively and with the required level of accuracy.”
Mr Legge reinforced NSW Farmers support for the mob-based system continuing in NSW for sheep and goat traceability.
“We strongly support the mob-based traceability system operating through the NLIS, as it is a proven and effective traceability tool.
“NSW Farmers stands by its current policy that RFID’s can used as a management tool but must not be a mandatory impost on farmers,” he said.
Mr Legge said that allowing sheep and goats with visual tags to enter Victoria was critical to maintaining supply volumes at key Victorian processors. He used EID tagging in his Poll Dorset stud sheep and would soon introduce it into his commercial Merino flock for data collection, but believed there were insufficient market or feedback signals to justify this in his terminal Poll Dorset cross lambs.
However, Mr Vallance said “smart” NSW sheep producers would be EID-tagging their lambs and sheep to eliminate any buyer resistance from processors or restockers meeting Victoria’s tagging system requirements.
Mr Vallance predicted NSW sheep and goat producers using EID tags will see the management advantages and also look to NSW Farmers to lobby the NSW Government to join the Victorian tag tender to reduce EID tag costs. Despite being invited each year, no other state has joined Victoria in its annual tag tender that has ensured Victorian sheep and goat producers have access to the cheapest EID tags in Australia.
He believed about 5-6 million sheep come into Victoria annually to be slaughtered either direct or via saleyards. About 12 million EID tags were sold to Victorian sheep and goat producers this year.
Chair of the NSW Farmers Goat Committee, Katie Davies, said it was important that the Victorian electronic traceability system does not impose requirements on interstate producers.
“Each state must have control of the traceability requirements in their jurisdiction,” Ms Davies said
“New South Wales must have sole control of setting the traceability requirements for New South Wales producers and the Victorian electronic system must not dictate requirements to NSW producers”
“We cannot have a scenario where Victoria determines the traceability system that NSW producers need to comply with,” she said.
Victoria last year mandated the government-subsidised implementation of electronic identification for sheep and goats, and from 1 January 2019, all sheep and non-exempt goats introduced from interstate and born after that date must be electronically tagged before being dispatched from a Victorian property. All other states are proceeding with the mob-based visual tag-based National Livestock Identification System.
NSW Farmers and other state farming organisation participated in a Sheep Producers Australia tour to look at how the new mandatory EID system was working in Victorian saleyards and abattoirs, and for producers. After the tour, SPA chief executive officer Graham Smith said different traceability systems for sheep in Australia’s states will not help the nation’s international competitiveness and eletrinic identification is “the way to go”, although SPA has decided it will continue to support the voluntary uptake of electronic identification of sheep.
Livestock SA president Joe Keynes said the organisation did not participate in the recent Victorian EID system tour, but wanted to undertake its own inspection of the sheep EID use in the state. Livestock SA chief executive officer Andrew Curtis said South Australia would be persisting with the mob-based National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats, but continuing to watch the introduction of EID into Victoria.
“We’re comfortable that the system we have in place nationally at the moment works for South Australia.”
Agriculture Victoria said the new tagging requirements come into effect as Victoria’s electronic NLIS Sheep & Goats system continues to impress during the peak of the season, with the number of electronically tagged animals scanned in Victorian saleyards and abattoirs exceeding 140,000 and 100,000 head per week respectively in late November.
More recently, Hamilton saleyards scanned more than 51,000 electronically tagged sheep on a single sale day and successfully uploaded them to the NLIS database. Since the critical reform was announced in August 2016, electronically tagged sheep and goats have been scanned and uploaded to the NLIS database more than 2 million times in saleyards and more than 3.7 million times at Victorian abattoirs.
Agriculture Victoria’s director for sheep electronic identification Michael Bretherton said there are currently more sheep movements being registered per week on the NLIS database than the movements reported by all cattle saleyards throughout Australia combined and “nothing on the scale of what is now occurring routinely in Victorian saleyards has been done before anywhere in the world.”
“The way in which the sheep and goat industries have embraced the change as Victoria continues its transition to an electronic NLIS for sheep and goats should be commended.
“The support of Victoria’s producer, agent, saleyard and processing sectors during the transition to an electronic NLIS has been exemplary,” he said.
As previously announced, from 1 January 2019 electronic NLIS sheep tags will be available at subsidised prices which start at $0.55 per tag. For more information visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/sheepEID or call 1800 678 779 during business hours.