NSW backs industry calls for national electronic ID scheme for sheep and goats amid FMD threat
The NSW Government is backing growing industry calls for the urgent development of a national mandatory sheep and goat electronic identification system in light of the serious threat of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) entering Australia.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the NSW Government will propose a national transition to individual identification tags for sheep and goats to help bolster the country’s defence against infectious diseases like FMD at a meeting with all Australian agriculture ministers on Wednesday afternoon.
“The FMD crisis in Indonesia, and its recent spread to Bali, is a significant threat to our livestock industry with the potential to cost the Australian economy $80 billion and send shockwaves through regional communities for years to come,” Mr Saunders said.
“That’s why the NSW Government has been pushing for the Federal Government to further increase biosecurity measures to keep FMD out of Australia.
“Individual traceability for sheep and goats will be crucial during an emergency disease outbreak and deliver benefits across the supply chain.
“An effective national traceability system is critical to ensure NSW can continue exporting more than $1 billion in sheep meat each year.
“Any change towards an electronic identification system for sheep and goats needs to be implemented nationally to ensure consistency and functionality across all states, and be developed hand in hand with industry to ensure it is practical and cost-effective.
“The introduction of a national system won’t happen overnight. It will take time to get right, which is why it’s important to start the conversation now.”
Currently, the National Livestock Identification System includes electronic identification of individual animals to allow tracing of cattle, but relies on a mob-based system for tracing the movements of sheep and goats.
Mr Saunders said the NSW Government will work with producers and industry to deliver on their concerns and develop a practical system that works for them.
“We will work with all jurisdictions, and with industry, to develop a framework that works for everyone across the whole supply chain,” Mr Saunders said.
Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner said industry has been calling for a national electronic ID scheme for sheep.
“Sheep Producers Australia supports individual electronic identification in conjunction with broader whole-of-system reform that will provide a viable opportunity for the sheep industry to strengthen traceability for biosecurity, food safety, and to support market access requirements,” Ms Skinner said.
“The rapid and reliable tracing of livestock plays a significant part in emergency disease response - the faster animals are traced the greater the chance of controlling the disease outbreak and minimising its economic and social effects.
“Electronically identified livestock can be traced with greater efficiency and accuracy than visually identified livestock. A key principle underpinning the evolution of a traceability system must be the harmonisation of traceability standards and centralisation to create a truly national system.
“This is critical, because the value of what we produce is defined by our capacity to export and that capacity is underpinned by our national traceability system.”
Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson called for the entire agricultural industry to support a national, individual, electronic-based small stock traceability program to detect and prevent the spread of exotic animal disease.
“To make sure the entire country is prepared for a disease outbreak like FMD we need to act right now to start the process of developing a national eID system for sheep and goats,” Mr Hutchinson said.
“AMIC has been calling for a national, individual, electronic-based small stock traceability program, including all parts of the sheep and goat industry, and welcomes the move by the NSW Government to work with industry along state and federal governments to implement a stronger more evolved sheep traceability program.”
For more information on Foot and Mouth Disease, visit the Department of Primary Industries.