Electronic tags could spell chaos for cross border trade

NSW Farmers President Derek Schoen has warned Victorians not to spend money on a system which could spell chaos for cross border sheep trade.

The association said that the Victorian Government appeared to make an ‘announcement-by-stealth’ last week that would force sheep farmers to electronically tag their animals.

Victorian farmers are not supportive of mandatory electronic tagging nor are their NSW and South Australian neighbours.

Mr Schoen said that a go-it-alone Victorian system could spell chaos for Victoria, as it had in Europe when it was implemented there.

“Cross-border trade would be affected and Victoria may well find it experiences market shortages,” he said.

On Wednesday last week, the Victorian Auditor-General tabled a report in parliament that outlined that the state had experienced a significant decline in livestock surveillance activities of 39 per cent between 2011-12 and 2014-15, in line with the cuts to core front-line staff.

Mr Schoen said that while Victoria did have serious gaps in its system, a mandatory electronic radio-frequency identification (eRFID) program was not the answer.

“The Victorian Government should be addressing the real issues such as fully implementing the existing system and ensuring that farmers understand how to fill in their National Vendor Declarations (NVDs),” he said.

“Our position is clear. We don’t think there is anything wrong with the current system. Compliance in NSW is well above 90 percent which is robust for biosecurity.”

NVD accuracy improved to around 98 percent in some saleyards in NSW during compliance activity conducted in 2013.

Mr Schoen said: “If the Victorians are looking for a new system, they need only look across the border.”

“An electronic tag does not guarantee a more robust biosecurity system – as every IT geek will tell you: if you don’t put the correct information in, you are not likely to get the correct information out. Garbage in, garbage out,” he concluded.

25 August 2015

Contact: Jaimie Lovell

Phone: 1300 794 000

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