A National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) help desk is being trialled in Western Australia to improve the traceability of sheep movements in the state.
The initiative by the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia, is supported by the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program, which has committed $250,000 over three years as part of the $20 million Boosting Biosecurity Defences initiative, through Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture.
The NLIS records the movement of all sheep across Australia and requires sheep producers and industry stakeholders such as agents, abattoirs and saleyards to register with NLIS and to record sheep movements on an electronic database.
Increased sheep traceability has benefits
Department sheep NLIS helpdesk manager Peter Gray said increased sheep traceability would have three major benefits for producers and sheep industry stakeholders.
“Enhanced sheep traceability will allow industry and government to rapidly trace disease or chemical residue issues to the farm of origin more rapidly. This, in turn, will increase consumer confidence in food safety and potentially increase the number and value of international markets we can trade into,” Dr Gray said.
“The department’s sheep NLIS help desk will operate during business hours to provide telephone and email support for producers, agents, saleyards staff or anyone within the sheep industry requiring assistance with any aspect of the NLIS process.
“This may include registering for an account, uploading a sheep movement, explaining an error message, providing advice on identification requirements or any other issue related to sheep identification or movement in WA,” he said.
“Producers are particularly invited to seek help with how to register private sale, agistment and shows and field days movements.”
WA farmer groups welcome initiative
Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) and WAFarmers have welcomed the initiative, with both groups encouraging producers to make sure their sheep movements are recorded correctly.
WAFarmers President Dale Park said about 84 percent of Western Australia’s sheep turn-off is exported live or as chilled or frozen sheep meat.
“WAFarmers encourages producers to take advantage of the assistance available from the helpdesk as traceability of WA sheep is vital to maintain our access to international markets.”
PGA Livestock Committee chairman Digby Stretch said sheep traceability is essential should there be an exotic disease outbreak.
“So PGA urges producers to upload their sheep movements to the NLIS database.”
WA sheep producers unsure of NLIS requirements
Kojonup sheep producer and Sheep Industry Leadership Council chair Rob Egerton-Warburton also supported the help desk pilot.
“Saleyards and abattoirs are familiar with the process of uploading movement information to the NLIS database, however some sheep producers are still unsure of their requirements,” Mr Egerton-Warburton said.
“The assistance available from the helpdesk will enable producers to assure the traceability of WA’s sheep product by familiarising them with the NLIS database process.”
To contact the DAFWA sheep NLIS helpdesk, call +61 (0)8 9363 4150 or email [email protected]
Source: WA Department of Agriculture and Food