Electronic Tagging

There has been a lot of discussion in the media lately about the electronic tagging of cattle and deer.

Following on from the costs of micro chipping dogs, increased fertilizer and feed costs and carbon taxes farmers could be forgiven for being concerned about yet another cost.

A discussion paper was made available for public consultation in June this year by MAF and other industry parties proposing to implement National Identification and Tracing (NAIT). The discussion paper outlines a proposal for requirements for identification and tracing of New Zealand's cattle and deer by 2011.

The reasons given for following the global trend of introducing increased animal identification methods include trade market access, biosecurity, management of diseases and proving assurance to consumers that their food is safe.

New Zealand's current identification systems are seen to be incomplete and inaccurate.

So what is it that is being proposed and when will it begin to affect farmers?

The NAIT system will require cattle and deer to be individually identified and recorded in the electronic NAIT database via a radio frequency identification ear tag (the information is recorded in a central database, not on the individual chip, unlike microchips). All cattle and deer will need to be registered on NAIT within three months of birth or at the first contact with the animal, whichever is sooner. There will be an exemption for bobby calves.

All farms, saleyards, meatworks, etc will also need to be registered on NAIT and all movements of animals between properties will be recorded, as will information on animals that die, are slaughtered on the property or go missing. Farmers will either have to meet the NAIT requirements themselves (over an internet-based system or phone) or contract with a service provider to assist with compliance.

It is proposed that the cost of the NAIT system be shared, with the Government meeting the capital expenditure of setting up with scheme and 35% of the ongoing operating costs of NAIT, and the industry meeting the remaining 65% of operational costs. The industry will also need to meet the costs of tagging and recording information in the database. It is estimated that the additional cost of a tag for each animal will, initially, be between $2.30 and $3.10.

A sign up phase between 2008 and 2011 is proposed to allow time for the industry and farmers to prepare. It is expected that the legal framework for NAIT will be drafted early next year, with the requirements of NAIT being compulsory by the middle of 2011. The legal framework is likely to include:

  • The setting up of a governing body, management agency and accreditation system
  • Obligations on farmers and others around registration, data provision and reporting
  • The transition from existing systems
  • Auditing and enforcement

There is some concern amongst farmers that the information recorded could be used by the Government for wider purposes than those initially discussed. The risk of this will depend on the rules and regulations around who has access to the data and what purposes it can be used for.



The content of this document is necessarily general and readers should seek specific advice on particular matters and not rely solely on this document.
If you would like more information on any of the topics in this document, please contact your usual Auld Brewer Mazengarb & McEwen adviser.




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