Farm­ers ad­vised to pre­pare for tag­ging

South Waikato News - - RURAL DELIVERY -

Imag­ine if a govern­ment or­dered ev­ery New Zealan­der to carry an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card.

Civil lib­er­tar­i­ans would be stunned and Green MP Keith Locke would call for di­rect ac­tion. MPs would cross the floor against to­tal­i­tar­i­an­ism. On July 1 next year, Ge­orge Or­well’s 1984 will meet An­i­mal Farm when the National An­i­mal Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and Trac­ing scheme (Nait) takes ef­fect.

The tech­ni­cal side of Nait is straight­for­ward. It’s a ra­dio fre­quency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion ear-tag for cat­tle (and deer, from 2013) which stores data link­ing peo­ple, prop­erty and live­stock. This pro­vides life­time an­i­mal trace­abil­ity – from pad­dock to plate so to speak.

The idea is that we al­ways know where live­stock are so we can re­spond quickly if dis­as­ter strikes. Its pro­mot­ers say it is a tool to safe­guard New Zealand and the in­come we all de­pend upon.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers has worked hard to en­sure what will be­come law is prac­ti­cal and ef­fec­tive. The cost of the tag is the least of our con­cerns – we’re more wor­ried about the time needed to en­ter data on each an­i­mal into a web por­tal.

Although Nait has re­ceived seed money from govern­ment, it will be funded from farmer levies. Fines for non-com­pli­ance range from $10,000 to $20,000. As this sys­tem is for tens of mil­lions of an­i­mals, we’re con­cerned the data­base won’t be up and run­ning un­til Fe­bru­ary. De­spite be­ing in­ter­net-based, Nait is be­ing in­tro­duced five years be­fore the roll­out of ru­ral broad­band will be fin­ished as well. The lack of ru­ral broad­band means many farm­ers will be forced to phone in their in­for­ma­tion.

On biose­cu­rity, tens of mil­lions more ru­mi­nants will re­main out of Nait than in it. Then there are the hundreds of thou- sands of feral live­stock run­ning around our forests. Ar­guably the big­gest risk comes from those an­i­mals liv­ing off the grid. Iron­i­cally, Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ po­si­tion was the same as the one the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has just ar­rived at: a vol­un­tary elec­tronic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem.

Now we await the largest farmer ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign New Zealand has ever seen and one that needs to in­clude small­hold­ers. The scheme must use ev­ery chan­nel agri­cul­ture of­fers – from A and P Shows to Fiel­d­ays, as well as DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb. It will also in­clude Fed­er­ated Farm­ers. It would be wrong for us to put our heads in the sand when Nait will be­come law. We re­main scep­ti­cal and will be watch­ing it and those farmer levies.

The clock is tick­ing and any­one with cat­tle or deer lit­er­ally needs to get Nait-ed.

Sun­day Star Times

TAGGED: Farm­ers are be­ing ad­vised to start phas­ing into the com­pul­sory National An­i­mal Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and Trac­ing scheme for cat­tle and deer by tag­ging live­stock.

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