The Albanese and Minns Governments have joined together to announce more than $38 million to support the sheep and goat industry implement mandatory individual electronic identification (eID) across NSW. However, NSW Farmers say it’s not enough and tags need to be no more than $1.
From 1 August 2023, the sheep and farmed goat supply chain will be able to access an NSW Sheep and Goat eID Infrastructure Rebate to assist impacted stakeholders in transitioning from the existing visual tag system to an eID one. The Rebate will first be rolled out to saleyards and processors, then producers and agents from 3 October 2023.
The New South Wales government is contributing $31.4 million toward the scheme, with the Federal Government chipping in $7.2 million. Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said the investment would go towards the cost of transitioning to an eID system.
“Bringing in an eID system has very strong advantages for our farmers,” Minister Watt said.
“We have a great story to tell of our high-quality produce, and this opens up possibilities for accessing premium markets overseas.”
“We know that our produce is sustainable and subject to rigorous standards. With the data and transparency to back it up, the rest of the world will know it as well.”
NSW Minister for Agriculture, Regional NSW and Western NSW, Tara Moriarty announced the commitment to farmers at the NSW Farmers Conference in Rosehill.
She said the funding announced today demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to enhancing traceability systems and supporting the industry to meet this objective.
“Better traceability will ensure we can respond faster if there is an outbreak of an emergency animal disease and therefore reduce potential impacts on animals, farmers and consumers worldwide,” Ms Moriarty said.
“We’ve heard industry – they need support to make the move to eID. This announcement demonstrates that we have listened.”
Sheep and farmed goat producers say they appreciate funding to help transition to a mandatory traceability system, but concerns about tag costs remain.
NSW Farmers Sheepmeat Committee chair Jenny Bradley said the funding was appreciated, but there had to be greater contribution from the federal government, and the details had to be closely examined.
“We expect that all producers who are required to invest in mandatory eID should be able to readily access this funding and receive a rebate so that no one misses out,” Mrs Bradley said.
“The government’s eID rollout is a significant issue for producers, and we welcome progress, however, there still remains a significant need to reduce the cost of eID NLIS devices to economically affordable levels.
“If some states have cheaper tags than others, producers will lose faith in the fairness of the system, and we won’t stand a chance of national harmonisation.”
The funding was not expected to reduce tag costs in NSW, and Mrs Bradley said this was a critical issue that needed to be addressed. She said there had to be funding from the federal government to bring down the cost of eID tags.
“NSW Farmers policy seeks eID tags for sheep cost no more than $1 per tag, and more affordable tags is a position broadly agreed to by all other state farming organisations at our meeting in Adelaide last week,” Mrs Bradley said.
“We know tags need to be more affordable and we need flexibility with the NLIS when much lower cost devices become available.
“But the clock is running on the rollout of mandatory eID – sheep and farmed goat producers can’t afford to keep waiting for solutions to this issue of tag costs – we call on the NSW and Australian Governments to initiate a national tag tender to support the reduction of NLIS eID device costs; we need prompt action to initiate a scheme.”
The rebate scheme, which will be administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority (RAA) includes:
- 100% rebate to saleyards (due to high upfront costs)
- 50% rebate to processors
- 50% rebate to stock and station agents
- 50% rebate to producers
The NSW Government will provide additional free eID-specific training and education to help producers, agents and those working in saleyards and processors to understand their requirements with respect to sheep and goat eID.
Training is expected to commence later this year.
Ms Moriarty encouraged all possible applicants to visit the RAA website for more information about what support is available to them.
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