VFF gets “no clear answer” on Vic sheep tagging plans

Terry Sim, September 21, 2015
VFF Livestock president Ian Feldtmann

VFF Livestock president Ian Feldtmann

VICTORIA’S farmers have been unable to get a “clear answer” on the state government’s agenda for wider use of electronic sheep tags in the state.

After a meeting with Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford last week, VFF Livestock Group president Ian Feldtmann said the delegation “did not get a clear answer other than electronic tags are inevitable”.

“I took the opportunity to make it very clear that the VFF did not support mandating electronic tags (for sheep) and we certainly would hope that the government would not go back on pre-election promise,” he said.

“We didn’t get a clear answer as to whether it was going to be mandated or not.”

Mr Feldtmann said in the limited time available, discussions focussed on whether the Labor Government intended to go back on its “promise” on mandatory electronic tagging of sheep.

Prior to the 2014 State Election the party’s agriculture spokesman Jacinta Allan said Labor would not introduce mandatory electronic tagging of sheep until there is a nationally consistent approach that is affordable for farmers and well-supported by industry.

Stronger effort needed with per-urban pig owners

Mr Feldtmann assumed that a lower electronic tag price from the recent tenders would help the Victorian Government “make up its mind up.”

He said the state government needs to look at how it has run down its department resources and how exposes Victoria’s livestock industries to several issues in the event of a disease outbreak.

“There are other issues such as the keeping of pigs in the peri-urban areas around Melbourne which pouts the industry, according to the government, at high risk.

“We don’t believe that they have gone anywhere near the path to address that issue.”

The government’s efforts in the peri-urban area need to be stronger and more targeted, Mr Feldtmann said.

‘No promises’ of resourcing funds

On the issue of government funds for industry resourcing if the state government decided to mandate electronic sheep tags, Mr Feldtmann said there were “no promises” made at that meeting.

“I came away only feeling confident in the fact that we had made it quite clear that the industry didn’t want it mandated and did not expect the government to go back on its pre-election promise.

“I don’t believe that we will have changed their mind; I think whatever path the Minister wishes to take, the Minister will do that,” he said.

“The Minister would have no doubt of what our stance is and there are costs that are going to be placed upon the industry.”

Ms Pulford was told any costs forced upon the industry by mandating electronic tags would not be acceptable, he said.

Mr Feldtmann said the industry had indicated it was willing to work with the government on mob-based system tagging issues.

“We need a full commitment from the government that they too will be fulfilling their responsibilities as part of the national agreement and not pulling back because they may have other plans.

“The Victorian Auditor-General’s report made it quite clear that we as an industry are exposed by the government’s running down of the department’s (livestock monitoring) resources,” he said.

“Certainly we would be very disappointed if the government is only focussing on electronic tags so as to take the emphasis off of what was a very clear point made by the auditor-general on the running down of resources.”

More resourcing needed for current system

Mr Feldtmann believed the government needed to address its resourcing to make the current voluntary visual tag mob-based system work.

“It was take more than a handful of vets being employed or put on some contractual arrangement.

“We cannot afford to have our department run down and by running it down, exposing us to a whole lot of dangers,” he said.

“It would be very very disappointing should the Victorian government believe that through mandating (electronic sheep tags) that the rest of Australia would come on board with a national program.

“There is a national program and there are very strong messages coming from other states saying that they are certainly not wanting to mandate electronic tags,” he said.

“At the end of the days the costs are put upon industry and governments need to listen to industry.”


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  1. John Bodey`, September 21, 2015

    Electronic identification of sheep and the associated electronic traceability of mobs of sheep will be far superior to any paper-based system. Just like Victoria led the way with cattle, Victoria needs to lead the way with sheep.
    The sheep industry is very conservative; it has always been slow to adopt new technologies. Apparently in the 1800’s the shepherds were sceptical that the drafting gate would work.

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