FROM March 31 this year, producers receiving electronically identified sheep or goats directly from another property will need to register the movement on the NLIS database within 48 hours.
And also from March 31, when electronically identified sheep or goats are purchased in a saleyard, the selling agent working with the saleyard will be required to scan the tags and register the movement.
It’s all part of a new traceability program introduced by the State Government, however while Victorian sheep producers, agents and saleyards operators are being saddled with the extra work and expense, their colleagues across the border into NSW are not.
“It’s an anomaly which concerns veteran stock agent, Terry Johnston of SEJ in Leongatha.
“We’re supposed to start at the end of March and I’d say we’ll probably cope with it down here but it hasn’t been working well in Ballarat and Bendigo,” he said, owing to the huge numbers put through those selling centres at times.
“The same would go for the western part of the state.
“You also got the situation up at Corowa and other places along the border where they’ve got sheep and lambs coming in from NSW, as well as Victoria, where they don’t have the electronic tags.
“It’s supposed to be a national scheme so wouldn’t you wait until everyone was ready to go,” Mr Johnston said.
“We Victorians are the guinea pigs on this.”
Also of concern at the Leongatha Saleyards last week was the cost of the tags, reportedly 75¢ to 78¢, although they are supposed to be subsidised into 2018.
In November last year, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced ongoing support for “the cheapest electronic sheep tags to be available in Australia from just 45 cents for 2018”.
Opposition Agriculture Spokesman, Peter Walsh, the Deputy Premier agreed last week there was an element of confusion and still some teething problems with the introduction of the scheme which is why he has called for a delay in its implementation to the end of the Financial Year.
“It has not been implemented well. To be effective it should have been co-ordinated down the eastern states if that’s what they wanted to do.
“There’s still a lot of issues to be sorted out. We’d like to see a delay.”
It is understood that VLE Leongatha is ready to read the tags, having received a government grant to assist with the implementation.
Sheep and goats may be dispatched from a property without an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag if:
a. The person in charge has received permission in writing from an authorised Agriculture Victoria animal health or veterinary officer because their sheep or goats cannot be safely tagged on the property on which they reside prior to dispatch, or
b. There is an extreme emergency such as imminent threat from a bushfire or floods, in which instance minimum information must be recorded and reported to the NLIS database within 14 days of the date of departure of the sheep or goats.
What equipment must a producer have?
A tag applicator and electronic tags are all that a producer needs to meet his/her legal obligations. Other equipment, such as a tag reader, may be used to assist with on-farm decision making, but the use of additional equipment is an individual business decision.
They’re sheep, we’re guinea pigs