Lamb Production

Stock agents want to know what you think about mandatory sheep EID

Terry Sim September 28, 2016

ALPA logoAUSTRALIA’S national livestock agent association is surveying sheep industry stakeholders about the Victorian Government’s decision to mandate electronic sheep and goat identification next year.

The Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association with the Agribusiness Council launched the survey this week with a series of questions around the effectiveness of EID technology in saleyards and the responsibility for infrastructure costs.

ALPA is frustrated and disappointed with the Victorian Government’s decision to mandate RFID tags on all sheep and goats born after 1 January 2017 with scanning to start in Victorian saleyards from July next year.

After January 1, 2017, all sheep and goats born in Victoria will require an electronic identification tag before being dispatched to a saleyard, abattoir or another property. A consultation period set by the Victorian Government to assess feedback on the initiative ends this week.

From mid-2017, all saleyards, abattoirs and knackeries will be required to scan electronic tags of sheep and goats and upload the information to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database.

ALPA chief executive officer Andy Madigan said the survey had been sent to all association members; including stock agents, saleyards and truck drivers.

“We just want to know what everyone else thinks – whether we are barking up the wrong tree or is everyone else on the same page except for the government?

Mr Madigan said he did not believe ALPA could turn around the government’s decision on sheep EID.

“I just think it is ridiculous – four weeks to discuss something as important as this – and two weeks after that, by the 15th of October, they are going to give us something back.

“The consultation to me is a bit of a joke, if it is going to take four weeks for us to get all the stuff into them, they are going to decipher it, work out what they are going to do and in two weeks’ time tell us all, I would say the decision on how they are going to do it has been made already.

“We are just telling them to slow down; it’s not a race to get there and if we are going to do it, let’s all get on side and do it together.”

The Victorian Government has said it will provide funding to support the transition to electronic tagging based on feedback received during a consultation period due to finish this month. Agriculture Victoria has said feedback on the draft standards and transition package will assist with the implementation.

ALPA is urging people in the sheep and goat industry to have their views recorded in its survey. Click on the following link to do the survey:

A spokesman for the Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford said there will be a transition package funding announcement in mid-October to assist with infrastructure for processors, saleyards and producers. The consultation process closes at the end of this month.

“We will do another event to announce the fund and go through the details in October,” he said.

ALPA said the results of the survey would be made public “in due course”.


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  1. Brad Bellinger, October 3, 2016

    Seven years ago I attempted to do some of the base costings for NLIS which only included tags, reading charges and government funding.
    I asked the NLIS people how many tags were on the database they told me 120 million — 120m @$3.70 is $444m, add reading charges 120m @$1.50 is $180m – total $624m.
    Assuming since then that a further 70m tags have been added, using the same calculation, this equates to $364m, so $624m plus $364m equals $988 million. Add the $19 million that state and federal governments have wasted taxpayers on and you are well over the billion-dollar mark.
    ABA total costings for NLIS RFID were $37 per head. These costings were criticised by those in favour of NLIS at the time. Interestingly, saleyards have adopted it for replacing lost tags or non readers.

  2. Jane Craig, September 30, 2016

    “1 billion dollars”….perhaps someone has being watching a bit too much Austin Powers.

  3. Brad Bellinger, September 29, 2016

    The agribusiness online audit on the efficacy of the National Livestock Identification Scheme conducted over 17 property identification codes involving 57,000 tags showed that 34.5 percent of cattle going to slaughter had lost their whole of life traceability.
    With Brazil (without RFID) now entering USA and USA (without RFID) now entering more beef into our high value markets of Japan and South Korea, RFID for market access is a fallacy.
    If a disease outbreak such as Foot and Mouth Disease does occur, wild goats, wild pigs and wild deer (in Victoria), all untagged of course, will be carriers of the disease. In a recent stock theft case in New South Wales the thieves cut the tags out of the sheep ears and the police used ear marks for identification.
    So bad did RFID fever grasp such bodies as Meat & Livestock Australia, that their employees falsified an online vote concerning RFID. Rather than Victoria going down the ludicrous path of mandating RFID for sheep, a Senate inquiry should be held into the mandating of RFID for cattle that has now cost cattle producers over $1 billion.

  4. Glenn Phillip Nix, September 29, 2016

    As someone who has sold old and young rams for $2 only two years ago, given the number of tags that are cut out by shearers, pulled out or caught on Ringlock, what an absolute waste of money for no return. No-one will pay you more. It’s very easy to say ‘affordable’ when sheep are $100. How about at $2?

  5. Absolute madness. I bet none of the decision makers have ever loaded or unloaded a road-train of sheep on a very hot day on their own at the back of Bourke.
    That should be a compulsory activity before they are qualified to make any decision on sheep handling. Just try loading and reading sheep tags at the same time on your own.
    They might say read them before hand, but a couple escape or your left with fifty you can’t get on the truck. What are their numbers? Have to read them again won’t you. All these things sound good, but in reality are just impediments to getting the job done efficiently and for the majority of producers of no benefit at all.
    The PIC identity tag is a great idea and if a processor or feedlotter wants electronic tags, then they should pay a bit extra to cover the tags and the heartache. Full names required in future for reader comments please Kerry, as per our long-standing comments policy: Editor.

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