TFGA supports $1 sheep EID tags after budget knock-back

Terry Sim, May 31, 2023

TFGA president Ian Sauer.

TASMANIA’S peak farming body supports moves to limit sheep and goat electronic ear tag costs to around $1 or less as state and federal governments continue to negotiate cost-sharing for the proposed mandatory EID roll-out from 1 January 2025.

However, the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association has expressed disappointment that the state’s government made no funding allocation to prepare for the roll-out, despite TFGA recommendations for support.

New South Wales’ peak farming body NSW Farmers last week called for mandatory electronic identification tags for sheep and goats to cost no more than $1, effectively putting state and federal government on notice to factor this into cost-sharing arrangements.

The NSW Farmers $1 tag price goal is supported in Queensland and South Australia, and Western Australia already has a short-term tag discount (75 cents) scheme in place that has limited producers’ costs to about $1-$1.50 a tag, depending on the supplier.

TFGA president Ian Sauer said he “absolutely” supported EID tag costs to producers being $1 or less.

“A subsidy, if that’s good; however, it’s probably not worth a lot unless all the rest is done as well.

“We also would support education and extension to help farmers with introduction of electronic tags, to show the benefit of the tags and the value-adding that the tags can be used for such as performance recording and mob management.”

Mr Sauer said any support for TFGA members “to take the pain away” and get them using EID tags would be welcome.

“The issue that we want to make sure happens is that the processors and the agents and the (livestock sale) yards have all the appropriate (tag) readers in place before the introduction.

“So what we don’t want to see happen is for the farmers to go to the expense of putting electronic tags in and then finding that when they get to the yards and processors, they’re not geared up.”

Mr Sauer said there is also an opportunity for tag readers to be made available to farmers at a discounted cost so they can start top use and value-add tag use.

Tasmanian budget was ‘an empty cupboard’ for farmers

After the release of the Tasmanian State Budget last week, Mr Sauer said every part of the community “had its wings clipped”, but the TFGA would have liked to see greater investment in traceability initiatives, such as the proposed implementation of electronic tags for sheep and goats.

“This is going to be a significant change, requiring significant investment from all sectors of industry, including government.”

Mr Sauer said the budget was largely an empty cupboard for Tasmanian farmers and failed to inject meaningful assistance into the sector, apart from $2.59 million of support for biosecurity border personnel and industry engagement for traceability planning, supply chain engagement, and emergency animal disease risk preparedness activities, and the investment of an additional $1.5m in educational infrastructure at Burnie’s TasTafe campus.

“TFGA were bitterly disappointed that most things in our budget submission weren’t looked at,” he said.

The TFGA’s budget submission to the Tasmanian Government sought funding for:

  1. Continuation of the sheep and goat EID implementation study through the Tasmanian Red Meat Industry Development Project;
  2. Funding for educational workshops for sheep producers to support the implementation and utilisation of EID on farms;
  3. Investigation of an equitable cost-sharing arrangement and support from both the State and Federal governments for the implementation and maintenance of any proposed system.

Mr Sauer said there will be consequences with the Tasmanian Government’s lack of EID funding that would impact consultation with farmers to ensure a smooth implementation.

“There was nothing in the budget for EIDs so as far as I’m concerned that (consultation) is going to be held up for a year.

“This will have to be an industry approach and my gut feeling is the government, agents and the processors will be chucking in money, because we’re all Team Agriculture,” he said.

“We’re Team Agriculture, it’s not them and us.

“The farmers provide a whole heap of in-kind support; I mean, we’re the ones that have to bear the greatest pain for any of these initiatives,” he said.

“So TFGA is very proactive in making sure there is a whole of industry approach on this and it shouldn’t be the farmers that wears all the pain, we need to make sure that the whole supply chain is involved in the process so that the pain and the financial burden is shared.”

Mr Sauer said the TFGA would be going back to the government and urging them to use the next 12 months to get all the players in the tent.

“It may well be that we can get the industry to put the money in and not the government, but I doubt that is going to happen.

“We’re not going to just pull our skirts over our heads and cry foul; TFGA will be out there and talking to all stakeholders to see if we can progress this to move it forward, because Tasmania doesn’t want to be left behind when every other state is implementing EIDs.”


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