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Call to Action on eID

eID

Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling (PAWD) recently became aware of a NSW Department of Primary Industries survey on the mandatory adoption of electronic identification ear tags for sheep and farmed goats that was set to close last week, but having secured a two-week extension, they’re now calling on all graziers to share their thoughts on the topic before the survey’s new deadline this week at 11:59pm on Friday November 24.

Local landowner and PAWD Councillor, Lachlan Gall, contacted the Barrier Truth last week just days before a looming survey deadline that he says wasn’t well distributed, but with support from MP Roy Butler’s team, the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) approved a two-week extension granting pastoralists more time to offer feedback on their frontline experience around the mandatory implementation of electronic identification ear tags (eID) for sheep and farmed goats.

“You build trust with truth and transparency.  The DPI has avoided truth and transparency at every turn along the eID pathway and they’re dragging us [pastoralists] down,” says Mr Gall.

“Consequently, there’s very little trust about eID at a grassroots level so I’m very much hoping that stakeholders will use the survey to send a clear message to the DPI that the proposed introduction of electronic tags for sheep and goats is not justified and the cost outweighs the benefits.”

PAWD’s perspective

“Electronic tags do not improve traceability when livestock are going directly from property of birth to slaughter, and they cost about two dollars a tag – without any allowance for readers or livestock handline equipment – so that’s $10,000 a year on tags alone if you’re producing 5000 lambs a year,” says Mr Gall.

“The full cost to industry is forecast to be $800 million over the first ten years with producers expected to wear over 80% of the cost, with the looming implementation of eID forcing some producers to reconsider their future in the industry.”

NSW livestock producers who are already using eID for management purposes report that the cost of doing so ranges from $40,000 to $70,000, says Mr Gall.

“No one has produced any evidence that eID tagged animals are commanding a premium in the saleyard or at the abattoir, with our major competitor in international lamb markets – New Zealand – sticking with visual tags and their existing mob-based traceability system.

“The DPI is not being honest with sheep and goat producers when it claims that traceability of visual tags is 70.08% but the correct figure from the relevant traceability exercise conducted in 2020 is 78.74% which represents an improvement on 77% traceability from a previous traceability exercise without any effort at a grassroots level to improve deficiencies in our existing visual traceability system.

“Multiple reports on traceability identify incorrect or incomplete NVD’s [national vendor declarations] as being a major contributing factor to breakdowns in traceability, yet nothing is being done by regulators to address this issue,” Mr Gall told the Truth.

PAWD’s key eID recommendations serve to improve sheep and farmed goat traceability, whilst at the same time reducing costs for producers and ensuring that the best available technology is adopted.

PAWD eID recommendations are:

  • Electronically connect NVD and the NLIS [National Livestock Identification System],
  • Retain a visual tag movement option for lambs, sheep, and farmed goats moving from property of birth direct to slaughter, and
  • Adopt cheaper and technologically superior Ultra High Frequency (UHF) eID tag technology.

To complete the survey, go to https://regionalnsw.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8cyMc7O9X8Vx8ma.

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