Supporters of mob-based sheep NLIS heartened by Sheepcatcher II tidbits

Terry Sim December 9, 2016

WoolProducers Australia logo Mar 2016SUPPORTERS of Australia’s visual tag mob-based National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats have been boosted by the first glimpses of the Sheepcatcher II exercise report.

The Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia said in a statement they were heartened by news that the unreleased Sheepcatcher II report indicated that has been improvement in the current NLIS system since 2007 and that it can meet national traceability performance standards.

SAFEMEAT Partners chairman Ross Keane told Sheep Central yesterday he understood the Sheepcatcher II report has indicated the existing NLIS system covering sheep and goats is able to meet the requirements of the traceability performance standards.

“The findings have indicated there is some improvement since a similar exercise was conducted in 2007,” he said.

The national sheep industry bodies don’t believe Victoria’s decision to mandate electronic sheep and goat identification in the state from next year has jeopardised the national industry’s opportunities to improve the current national visual tag mob-based system.

“We don’t believe that the horse has bolted, providing the two systems can work together, as Victoria says they can,” the statement said.

“However, the onus is on Victoria to work within the mob-based sheep and goat NLIS.”

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Paper NVD underpins both systems

The SCA and WPA said they had always supported the ability for producers to use electronic identification if it will make gains in their business, but they continue to support the mob-based system on a mandatory basis.

“It is important to note that both the visual and electronic identification systems are both currently underpinned by the paper NVD and this is key to both systems working effectively regardless of the type of tag used.”

WPA and SCA said they continue to stand by their support of the current mob-based system for sheep and goat NLIS as it is simple, cost-effective and well-accepted by the vast majority of industry.

“With well over 20 million sheep movements already uploaded to the NLIS database, it is well-placed to trace sheep in the event of an outbreak of a disease or similar emergency.

“Biosecurity is a key priority for the Australian sheep and wool industries and we would only support a system that was capable of delivering adequate traceability,” the statement said.

The sheep producer bodies were also looking forward to seeing the report and considering the results and recommendations in full.

“Once we have reviewed the report we will be able to provide greater detail of any enhancements needed to the system to support the process of continuous improvement.”

“The states have had access to information about their state results for some time, but industry groups are still waiting for the opportunity to see the results, which will be presented on a national basis.”

NLIS improvement focus

The SCA and WPA said they had always focussed on making improvements to the current NLIS system.

“We believe that continuous improvement for every system is necessary.

“Industry and Government are committed to meeting the traceability standards and we will continue to honour that commitment.”

Following the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) released in 2014, industry supported an enhanced mob-based system (option 1) for sheep and goats.

Since then the NLIS Sheep and Goats Business Plan (2016-19) (Business Plan) was developed in order to meet the enhancements required. The objectives of the business plan were:

 Enhance compliance of the NLIS to achieve 98 percent short-run traceability and 95pc long term traceability within four years.

 Establish agreed minimum essential national business rules for NLIS (Sheep and Goats) and facilitate the national consistency of the comprehensive compendium of NLIS (Sheep and Goats) business rules.

 Provide agreed monitoring, evaluation and reporting mechanisms for the Ministers’ to review in four years.

The full Sheepcatcher II report was this week referred by the National Livestock Identification System Sheep and Goat Advisory Committee for consideration by SAFEMEAT Partners, including its SCA, WPA and Goat Industry Council of Australia representatives, over the next four months. Mr Keane believed the Sheepcatcher II report would be released, possibly by March next year. Sheep Central has been told the previous Sheepcatcher I report was never publicly released.

The Sheepcatcher II exercise was held from June 2 till July 5 to assess the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats against the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards. The exercise involved the tracking of 60 sheep and goats selected from various points in the national production system, including saleyards and abattoirs. It was carried out by SAFEMEAT, the state and territory departments of agriculture from all jurisdictions (except the NT) and Animal Health Australia. Information gathered in the exercise is to be used to guide future improvements of the NLIS for sheep and goats.

As the most up-to-date assessment of the NLIS traceability system for sheep, the Sheepcatcher II report is expected to indicate whether all states are meeting national NLIS traceability performance standards.


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