Farmers have serious concerns eID system will fall short

The state’s peak agricultural body has warned farmers will be left out of pocket as an expensive government-mandated system progresses.

The implementation and transition to sheep and goat electronic identification was mandated by Australia’s Agriculture Ministers in 2022 following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Indonesia, with the move touted as strengthening biosecurity preparedness.

But more than 15 months later, amid a terrible market for meat and wool, the level of government rebates for sheep and goat producers had industry wondering whether there could be a fair and equitable transition to the required eID traceability system.

NSW Farmers Sheepmeat Committee chair Chris Kemp said there were serious concerns the scheme would fall short, and unclear communications from government were unhelpful.

“We provided substantial feedback and alternatives to the Department of Primary Industries on the proposed Rebate Scheme and flagged significant concern about its design with some farmers potentially missing out,” Mr Kemp said.

“We understand that there are significant financial pressures the NSW Government is facing, and that the decision to transition to eID for sheep and goats was made prior to them coming into government.

“However, the clock is ticking, and any additional government-mandated costs imposed on producers should only proceed if government can put its hand in its pocket to assist those impacted.”

Mr Kemp said industry support for the reforms were based on some key conditions that the state and federal government had to meet, including national harmonisation and reduced costs of eID devices for sheep and goat producers to economically affordable levels.

“NSW Farmers will continue to lobby for further financial assistance from both the state and federal governments to aid the transition, as insufficient funding to aid primary producers has been a concern we have continually raised,” he said.

“The eID traceability system for sheep and goats needs to be nationally harmonised so known issues with sheep movements between jurisdictions under the mob-based system are not repeated.

“There are also tough weather and market conditions facing producers, and we will continue to advocate in their best interests; our in-principle support for sheep and goat eID is based on several conditions being met.”

Mr Kemp said the NSW Government had opened a staggered rebate scheme to processors and saleyards before making it available to producers and stock and station agents, and he encouraged everyone required to transition to mandatory sheep and goat eID to apply as soon as possible.

NSW Farmers also asked the NSW Government to undertake its own work to deliver a tag tender that reduced the costs of eID devices for sheep and goat producers to economically affordable level.

-NSW Farmers