AUSTRALIA’S peak sheep producer body has declined to back its wool industry counterpart WoolProducers Australia’s decision to withdraw from the national mandatory electronic identification rollout.
But SPA chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner’s comments indicate some sympathy with why peak wool grower body WoolProducers last week withdrew its support for the mandatory EID rollout, citing inadequate government funding and disharmony on proposed business rules among the states.
SPA chief executive officer Bonnie Skinner told Sheep Central she recognised that the 2020 SAFEMEAT National Livestock Identification System reform recommendations supported by SPA — including sustainable and equitable cost-sharing arrangements, the establishment of a statutory governing model and upgrades to the national database — had not been adopted in full.
“When this advice was not adopted in full, we knew that nationally harmonised implementation of EID was going to be challenging, but still necessary.
“This was further reinforced when jurisdictions agreed differing timelines and approaches to the roll out of EID. This is deeply regrettable; however, we must continue to work within that environment to achieve the best outcomes for producers,” Ms Skinner said.
Ms Skinner said implementation has commenced on the back of significant budget commitments made by many of the jurisdictions and Federal Government.
“We will continue to call on the Federal Government to work collaboratively with industry and jurisdictional governments to provide adequate transitional support packages for Australian sheep producers and system enhancements to support a successful rollout and a robust national system,” she said.
Ms Skinner said Sheep Producers Australia’s position remains unchanged in its support of broad whole-of-system reform, of which individual electronic identification (EID) is a vital component, to strengthen traceability for biosecurity, food safety, emergency response, and to support trade and market access requirements.
She said the biosecurity threats facing Australia remain unchanged and the consequences of failing to strengthen our traceability system are unacceptable.
“Sheep Producers Australia will continue to work on behalf of producers to see that our traceability system is ready to meet those threats.”
On the lack of support from Victoria for draft NLIS standards and rules, Ms Skinner said it is disappointing that after significant effort to reach an acceptable middle ground, agreement could not be reached on significant components of the traceability standards.
“The reality is that jurisdictions implementing EID for sheep and goats for the first time require a minimum set of standards to progress drafting their legislation in preparation for the 1 January 2025 deadline.
“Therefore, it needs to be progressed as a matter of urgency with the support of the majority of the parties involved,” she said.
“The standards deliver the basis for harmonised operating through the supply chain and across internal borders.
“Sheep Producers Australia will continue to work with all stakeholders to assess the opportunities to resolve the disagreement with this stakeholder and support the implementation of Standards by all jurisdictions.”