With growing biosecurity threats on agriculture, the NSW government is backing industry calls for the urgent development of a national mandatory sheep and goat electronic identification system.
It's been a hotly debated topic for a number of years, however, amid a change in climate fueled by exotic disease fears, the state government has now changed its tune.
Currently Victoria is the only state to have rolled out mandatory electronic identification for sheep and goals.
The new government calls have been supported Australian Meat Industry Council and Sheep Producers Australia and it comes as NSW Farmers will debate the issue at its annual conference in Sydney in the coming days.
Merriwa branch has put forward a motion that the organisation require the NSW government adopt the Victorian traceability model to ensure an affordable and effective traceability systems that meets the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards.
While Guyra branch wants support for a national tag tender for purchase of sheep and cattle tags.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said the NSW government would propose a national transition to individual identification tags for sheep and goats to help bolster the country's defence against infectious diseases like foot and mouth disease.
He will put this forward with all Australian agriculture ministers on Wednesday afternoon.
"The FMD crisis in Indonesia, and its recent spread to Bali, is a significant threat to our livestock industry with the potential to cost the Australian economy $80 billion and send shockwaves through regional communities for years to come," Mr Saunders said.
He said this was why the NSW government had been pushing for the federal government to further increase biosecurity measures to keep FMD out of Australia.
"Individual traceability for sheep and goats will be crucial during an emergency disease outbreak and deliver benefits across the supply chain," Mr Saunders said.
"An effective national traceability system is critical to ensure NSW can continue exporting more than $1 billion in sheep meat each year."
Mr Saunders said any change towards an electronic identification system for sheep and goats needed to be implemented nationally to ensure consistency and functionality across all states, and be developed hand in hand with industry to ensure it is practical and cost-effective.
"The introduction of a national system won't happen overnight. It will take time to get right, which is why it's important to start the conversation now," he said.
Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner said industry had been calling for a national electronic ID scheme for sheep and it supported the scheme.
"The rapid and reliable tracing of livestock plays a significant part in emergency disease response - the faster animals are traced the greater the chance of controlling the disease outbreak and minimising its economic and social effects," Ms Skinner said.
Australian Meat Industry Council CEO Patrick Hutchinson called for the entire agricultural industry to support a national, individual, electronic-based small stock traceability program to detect and prevent the spread of exotic animal disease.
"To make sure the entire country is prepared for a disease outbreak like FMD we need to act right now to start the process of developing a national eID system for sheep and goats," Mr Hutchinson said.
"AMIC has been calling for a national, individual, electronic-based small stock traceability program, including all parts of the sheep and goat industry, and welcomes the move by the NSW Government to work with industry along state and federal governments to implement a stronger more evolved sheep traceability program."
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