NZ animal ID scheme inches closer

Thursday, 05 April, 2012

An electronic national identification for 11 million cattle and deer is one step closer with the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Bill in Parliament’s Committee Stage. Federated Farmers is certain its robust analysis has achieved better outcomes for farmers.

“While Federated Farmers has been opposed and vigorous in scrutinising NAIT, we’ve also had to work hard to ensure whatever becomes law actually works,” says Anders Crofoot, Federated Farmers spokesperson on animal identification.

“NAIT is not universally popular among farmers but Federated Farmers also recognises it is on track to become law. The scheme right now is vastly better than what it started out as. That’s only due to our robust input.

“Perhaps Federated Farmers’ biggest achievements are in making NAIT open to new technologies and convincing those who’ll run the scheme, NAIT Limited, to use the educative carrot instead of the Bill’s legislative stick.

“Of course, the NAIT Bill says something completely different. Federated Farmers will be watching out for our members given there are some stiff penalties in the Bill.

“As the planned go-live date is only 1 July, farmers cannot develop procedures with the scheme still undergoing usability trials. The reality is that thousands of farms are yet to tool-up along with carriage firms, stock yards and, potentially even, some processing plants.

“NAIT is getting there but there is a heck of a lot of work to be done before and after its launch.

“We’re realistic enough to know there’ll be fishhooks involving data entry, tags and even the readers. That’s why a phased rollout is best. But it’s unhelpful for politicians to speculate about what other livestock could be in NAIT when the scheme hasn’t even started.

“There’s another issue Federated Farmers is uneasy about and that’s how NAIT will be applied to around 175,000 lifestyle blocks. There could be hundreds of thousands of stock ‘off the grid’ and it seems to be a farming constituency with a low awareness of NAIT.

“NAIT won’t have the manpower to police compliance and nor will MAF. NAIT risks resembling Swiss cheese if we don’t ensure compliance on these lifestyle blocks,” Crofoot concluded.

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