VICTORIAN sheep and goat producers have been urged to apply for electronic identification transition assistance and ignore concerns the State Government’s $17 million package might be insufficient.
One of the first producers to have their $3000 EID equipment grant approved under the transition program, Mooralla Dohne breeder Andrew Campbell said there needed to be more State Government promotion of the transition package funding.
Mr Campbell and his partner Carol Hale use EID tags to match their Burnbank Dohne stud lambs to their dams from birth and to record liveweight, fleece and reproduction data for selection based on performance.
They use White Suffolk rams over Dohne ewes to produce prime lambs and EID would be important in tracking lamb value and performance, he said. The EID tags also helped the Dohne breeders track livestock movements and lodge National Vendor Declarations online using the AgLive electronic NVD.
“They (the State Government) need to do a lot more advertising to get the local farmers interested in applying for the funding.”
He said the government’s engagement around the transition package had been poor. Farmers are still worried about the level of red tape involved with a transition funding application, but he said the process had been simple.
“The word is going around that all the funding has been used up and that there is no point in applying, that all the money is all gone.”
At least one farm software company and the VFF Livestock Group has criticised the allocation of up to $750,000 for producer EID equipment and software, concerned some farmers might miss out on assistance if many producers applied for maximum funding, and that the money could have been allocated to benefit all sheep and goat farmers. This equipment can include wand and panel readers, weighing equipment with EID reader fittings, manual drafting crates, lamb marking cradles with EID reader fittings, or software.
Mr Campbell said he had also thought the producer funding might be insufficient, but had been told not many producers had applied and there was “heaps of money left.” He said some people have only applied for $200.
“They should get it going right …. have the funding out, get everybody on board and then release another lot of funding, that’s a commonsense approach.
“They need to get more people on board, there are just so many people who are so dubious about it,” he said.
“They should get the farmers who are interested involved and the rest will just come on board.”
Misinformation campaign blamed on Nationals
When asked if the producer grant funding is in danger of being fully subscribed early or if the application response has been less than expected, Minister for Agriculture Pulford said Nationals leader Peter Walsh had “created this misinformation campaign by simplistically dividing the total amount available by the number of farmers, and completely ignoring the details of the transition package and the standards.”
“Farmers are not required to do anything other than tag sheep and goats,” she said.
“The total value of funds available for farmers was derived after extensive consultation with industry stakeholders, knowing that the $750,000 was only for additional, optional infrastructure.”
Ms Pulford said all sheep and goat producers who need tags for their 2017-born lambs and kids can purchase cost-neutral white or pink electronic tags from just 35 cents each.
“This means all producers get support.”
Ms Pulford said funding is still available for more applications from producers, scanning contractors, saleyards, abattoirs and stock agents.
“Funding applications remain open until the specified closing date, or the funding allocation is exhausted, whichever occurs first.
“I look forward to making more funding announcements soon.”
Support available to entire supply chain
“As I have said previously, this is a game-changer for our industry, and a move Victoria is proud to lead the way on.
“Importantly. I want to stress that support is available to all across the supply chain – producers, saleyards, abattoirs and third party providers are encouraged to apply,” Ms Pulford said.
“We are continuing to work closely with the industry on the roll out of the support package and have had significant interest early on.”
Ms Pulford said the next tranche of applications from farmers is currently being assessed so there will be further announcements in coming weeks.
She said producer grant funding of up to $750,000 with a maximum amount per applicant of $3000 is open until December 31 2017, or when the allocation is exhausted – whichever occurs first.
“To date, 33 producers across Victoria have shared in more than $72,000 in funding.”
The transition package funding application deadlines are:
Producers, stock agents, transporters and EID scanning contractors – December 31, 2017
Agricultural show operators – December 31 2017
Export depot operators and export companies – December 31, 2017
Abattoirs and knackeries – March 31, 2017
Saleyards phase 1 (planning and design) – March 31, 2017
Saleyards phase 2 (infrastructure and installation) – June 31, 2017
Third party provider/research and development (R&D) – December 31, 2017
More producer workshops in March
Ms Pulford said information sessions have been held across the state, except the north-west where they start on February 6, 2017. More producer workshops will be delivered in every region from March 2017.
“There are workshops scheduled across the state for livestock agents and others for saleyard operators — led by the Australian Livestock Saleyards Association — where grant details will be discussed.
“In addition, there is ongoing interaction with all players across the supply chain via letters, the media and one-to-one meetings, to ensure everyone knows what support is available,” she said.
“Letters notifying farmers of the transition grants were sent to all farmers with a PIC.”
VFF workshops aimed at dispelling EID rumours and myths
VFF Livestock president Leonard Vallance yesterday encouraged livestock producers to boost their understanding of sheep and goat electronic identification tags by attending a series workshops being run across the Wimmera, Mallee and French Island by the State Government.
“These workshops are a good opportunity for producers to get a grasp on the support available during the transition period as we move from a visual tag system to EID tags.
“The point of the workshops is to dispel rumours and myths concerning the scheme, because we want producers to know the EID tags are cost-neutral due to the government’s investment,” he said.
“The clear message to producers must be that the only change to on-farm practice is the change of the ear tag to EID.
“All other practices relating to on farm management and production are at the discretion of the producer if they see benefit to their own business.”
The two-hour workshops are being run over the next two weeks at:
St Arnaud: St Arnaud Town Hall, Monday February 6, from 10am
Birchip: Birchip Community Leisure Centre, Tuesday February 7, from 10am
Swan Hill: The Grain Shed Church of Christ, Wednesday February 8, from 10am
Tankerton: French island War Memorial Hall, Wednesday February 8, from 11am
Ouyen: Ouyen Football Clubrooms, Thursday February 9, from 12pm
Horsham: Horsham DEDJTR, Monday February 13, from 10am
Edenhope: Edenhope Football/Netball Clubrooms, Tuesday February 14, from 10am
Kaniva: Kaniva Hall, Wednesday February 15, from 10am
Detailed information on the government’s EID transition package (including cost-neutral tags for producers and grants for purchasing infrastructure) will form a large part of the information sessions.
More information on the transition package, timeline for implementation, standards and training opportunities is available at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/SheepEID or by calling 1800 678 779.