SHEEP PRODUCERS SHOULDN’T BE LEFT HOLDING THE LAMB FOR eID COSTS

Thursday, 11 May 2023

MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall warned today that anything less than a federal scheme to fund the incoming mandatory sheep tagging changes would be short-changing NSW sheep producers.

From January 2025, all sheep and goats will be required to have electronic tagging devices as part of a nationally agreed scheme to increase traceability in the industry.

“While there is no question that electronic tagging is vital for the long-term protection of the sheep and goat industry, allowing better biosecurity controls and monitoring, the sheep and goat industry has different questions of scale compared other stock industries,” Mr Marshall said.

“Costs quickly escalate when multiplied into the thousands or tens of thousands. An extra $2 to $5 per head is significant, especially as we have seen commodity prices soften over the past six months.

“While that cost will come down over time, NSW producers are always expected to do the heavy lifting when it comes to leading the charge on better biosecurity and are the most vulnerable in many ways with ports being a significant entry point for foreign pests.

“The Federal Government is always quick to vacate any responsibility once there is a breach of the border and it is not good enough. They need to come to the table with a nationally funded scheme to support mandatory electronic identification.”

As outlined by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) sheep and goat electronic identification implementation plan, all sheep and goats will be required to be tagged if born after 2025, with all animals to be tagged by 2027. As of the 2021-22 count, there are 24.6 million sheep in NSW, the largest sheep producing state in the country.

“While the previous Federal Government put $46 million towards ongoing biosecurity measures, well over half that amount is already committed to updating the NLIS database, with no funding clearly allocated to a comparable database for sheep and goats,” he said.

“NSW has put $3 million towards this scheme and has led many of the working groups via DPI teams who have worked relentlessly over the past few years to fight threats to our agriculture – but they cannot be expected to keep doing this on behalf of every other government and nor should NSW producers be expected to spend thousands on tags without the certainty that the scheme is fully funded and ready to roll out.

“Producers have flagged concerns for years over the way this has been handled and rightfully have been reluctant to unnecessarily tag and incur sunk costs without the ‘back-end’ of this scheme set up.

“Now is the time for the new Commonwealth Agriculture Minister to act on his commitments around biosecurity – something he should be acutely aware of given his first international visit was to Indonesia to see first-hand the threat foot and mouth could pose to our farmers.

“I look forward to seeing funding for this – anything less leaves our farmers holding the ‘lamb’ on this scheme.”

For more information on the electronic tagging scheme and roll out, visit Sheep and Goat Individual Electronic Identification (nsw.gov.au)

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