A GIPPSLAND livestock agent and cattle producer has been convicted and fined more than $20,000 for actions that had the potential to undermine Victoria’s livestock traceability system.
Nathan Gibbon, an agent at Pakenham and director of Clayton Hill Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to a number of charges at Latrobe Valley Online Magistrates court on Wednesday 16 March. He was fined $20,300 plus costs of $220.80.
This included the use of disbanded property identification codes, failing to properly record livestock (cattle) movement information, not keeping copies of National Vendor Declarations and failing to produce documents. The company, Clayton Hill Pty Ltd, was fined $1100.00 without conviction.
When handing down the sentence, Magistrate Wallington noted that these offences were a systematic flouting of the system carried out in a deliberate and obvious way to increase profits.
Gippsland cattle producers, Kristian Bingham from Warragul and Peter Armstrong from Darnum also pleaded guilty to charges relating to livestock traceability offences including misusing National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) ear tags.
Mr Armstrong was convicted and fined $6300 plus costs of $494, and Mr Bingham was fined $7000 without conviction plus costs of $198.06.
The Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Australian Meat Industry Council and Australian Livestock Exporters Council submitted statements which highlighted how the defendants’ actions could cause ramifications across the entire livestock supply chain.
The NLIS is Australia’s system for identifying and tracking cattle, buffalo and bison, sheep and goats for disease control, food safety and market access purposes.
The cattle NLIS uses an electronic ear tag or device, marking each animal with its own, individual identification number. It is vital the right NLIS tag is used, otherwise the correct breeding and life history of an animal will not be recorded, Agriculture Victoria said.
The agency said all livestock movements must be accompanied by the appropriate documentation and meet the necessary NLIS requirements for monitoring and traceability which helps to ensure food safety and also protects the reputation of Victoria’s livestock industry as a supplier of quality meat and dairy products for domestic and export markets.
Agriculture Victoria program manager animal health and welfare Daniel Bode, said the prompt detection of the offending and thorough investigation conducted by the department has ensured potential risks to Victorian livestock and consumers were avoided.
Mr Bode said the outcome of the matters brought before the court served as a strong reminder the Victorian community takes biosecurity seriously.
“The vast majority of Victorian producers do an excellent job helping to ensure a strong biosecurity system is maintained.
“A strong biosecurity system not only protects our agriculture sector, but also our environment, biodiversity, cultural heritage, economy and way of life,” he said.
For more information on NLIS, including training on how to use the system, please click here.
Anyone wishing to make a specific complaint in regard to livestock welfare or traceability breaches can contact Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or [email protected]