More testing urged

By Country News

Further work needs to be done to ensure Victoria’s sheep and goat electronic identification system (EID) can be rolled out nationally, according to Sheep Producers Australia.

A group including representatives of SPA, WoolProducers Australia, state farming organisations and a state traceability representative visited The Australian Lamb Company abattoir at Colac, a Shelford property using EID for on-farm management and the Ballarat saleyard late last year to learn more about the system.

SPA acting chief executive officer Stephen Crisp said the tour group concluded that the EID system being implemented in Victoria was on track to meet the requirements of the National Livestock Traceability Performance Standards.

However, Mr Crisp said the industry would benefit from independently testing the system to determine its performance compared with the mob-based system.

‘‘Independent analysis would ensure that the benefits that were flagged before the Victorian EID roll-out are actually being delivered,’’ he said.

‘‘The report outlines that jurisdictional traceability staff who are responsible for the enforcement and compliance of NLIS in each state would be the appropriate group to determine the methodology needed to evaluate the system.’’

In addition, the group recommended a number of elements that need to be addressed if a national roll-out of EID was ever to be considered, including the price of tags and opportunities for a price reduction; carcase feedback from abattoirs and ownership of data collected by processors; infrastructure and funding requirements and resource capability of abattoirs, saleyards and jurisdictions; and ensuring adequate timelines prior to and during implementation.

Mr Crisp said these factors would be referred to the SAFEMEAT Sheep Traceability Working Group, established to implement improvements to the NLIS for Sheep and Goats recommended following the Sheepcatcher II traceability exercise in mid-2016.

■The tour group’s report is available for download at: