Farmers are being encouraged to share their feedback on the proposed changes to the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act and regulations, with consultation closing December 19
The NAIT scheme – which the Ministry for Primary Industries says is central to the biosecurity response effort to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis in New Zealand – is to be updated.
And Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says everyone who has an interest in NAIT should have a say on proposed ways to strengthen it for the future.
“The NAIT scheme should have worked better during the Mycoplasma Bovis response and I’m determined to help transform it into an easy-to-use, world-class traceability system to keep our primary sectors and economy safe,” says Damien.
“Earlier this year the long-awaited NAIT Review found a variety of flaws in the system and more than half of users were not recording farm-to-farm movements.
“We instructed OSPRI to crack on with making operational changes and fixed the NAIT Act 2012 under urgency to bring its search and inspection powers in line with other Acts to ensure compliance officers can do their jobs,” says Damien.
“Now we need to hear from those who use NAIT every day to tell us what changes to the law will make the system both a useful business tool and effective biosecurity tool.”
Proposed changes fall into two categories: those arising from the NAIT review undertaken by OSPRI, the organisation that oversees the scheme. Plus, changes generated from learnings from the M. bovis response.
In general terms, proposed changes include: The PICA – person in charge of an animal – will cover corporate bodies as well as individuals. For example, this will cover everyone in charge of animals and now matches requirements in other legislation, such as the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
NAIT tags will be assigned to a specific location – and not be able to be used elsewhere. A NAIT tag is a lifetime tag applied to an animal at its location of birth. So animals do not need to be retagged each time they move location.
Anyone transporting untagged animals without an exemption could be fined. Animals ‘unsafe to tag’ – previously labelled ‘impractical to tag’ – must be declared at any time before sending to the meat works.
Farmers must segregate untagged animals before tagging/returning them unless at the meat works. And farmers must declare any non-NAIT species annually.
Damien says at the heart of these proposals is a shared desire by the Government, farming industries and all New Zealanders to improve NAIT to keep our primary sectors safe “and ensure those blatantly disregarding the rules and putting the rest of the sector at risk are penalised”.
DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle says it’s vital dairy farmers take a close interest in what is being proposed, given the importance of biosecurity to the sector and to NZ.
“M bovis has highlighted the importance of an effective traceability scheme and every farmer should take the opportunity to express their view.”
Impact on farmers
“We’re working with MPI to further understand how these changes will impact on dairy farmers. DairyNZ will also be submitting our feedback on the proposed changes.”
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is also encouraging farmers to have their say on how to improve NAIT. CEO Sam McIvor says it’s important farmers ensure any changes deliver benefits and are workable on farm.
“While B+LNZ is supportive of many of the proposals being consulted on, any changes must be practical for farmers to implement.”
An example of this is MPI’s interest in whether other species – for instance, sheep –should be included in the scheme, and B+LNZ is urging caution on this.
Meanwhile, Federated Farmers urges farmers to speak up on the changes they want to see. President Katie Milne says good progress has been made with some of 37 recommendations in the NAIT Review.
“Now we have another chance to further hone the scheme into the effective farming, traceability and biosecurity tool we need it to be.
“Farmers – the people who use NAIT every day – have a huge stake in this and will no doubt have ideas on how to make NAIT more fit for purpose. “
Included in the consultation are questions on the role of animal transporters, issues around stock agents and potentially bringing other species under the scheme.
Further information, and submission forms, see: www.mpi.govt.nz/NAITconsultation Submissions close 5pm on December 19, 2018.