28 Jan 2010

Positive response to livestock tracing scheme

8:50 am on 28 January 2010

Plans for a compulsory electronic ear-tagging scheme for livestock has received a positive response from the agriculture sector, though some are worried about how much it will cost farmers.

The Government is to go ahead with a compulsory National Animal Identification and Traceability scheme for cattle farmers next year and deer farmers the year after.

The NAIT system is designed to limit the trade impact of a disease outbreak by allowing stock to be traced back to their home farms.

The Government contribution is expected to reach almost $16 million. After that, cattle and deer farmers will have to pay a levy to help meet costs.

Dairy industry organisations Dairy NZ and the Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand say the scheme is an important step forward for agriculture, in response to demand from overseas.

The meat industry has also voiced its support. Meat and Wool New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association say most other beef trading nations already have similar schemes and New Zealand was in danger of getting left behind.

But Federated Farmers questions whether the benefits of the scheme outweigh the costs. Some farmers have complained that the existing system is sufficient and there will be increased costs to meet.

NAIT chair Ian Corney says the levy will be small. The cost and starting date for the levy have not yet been decided.

Agriculture Minister David Carter says many farmers already use such a system. Legislation will be introduced to Parliament later this year.