MANDATORY electronic identification tags for sheep and goats should not be introduced, the NSW Farmers Association claimed today.
The group's opposition to the move follows the release of a statement by the Standing Council on Primary Industries suggesting implementation of such a scheme was possible but would require substantial investment of resources and funding from government and producers.
The association said the Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association, Rural Marketing Agents, The Australian Livestock Markets Association, WoolProducers Australia, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and the Goat Industry Council of Australia all supported the current mob-based approach to traceability.
Chair of NSW Farmers' sheepmeat committee, James Jackson, said Operation Tuckerbox, conducted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, had shown clearly the current mob-based National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) for sheep and goats achieved excellent traceability standards.
"Individual electronic tagging is an unnecessary financial impost upon industry with no cost effective benefit to biosecurity traceability," Mr Jackson said.
"If producers wish to use radio-frequency identification as a management tool, then that is their choice. But, to saddle the whole industry with this expense is unacceptable."
Australian Livestock & Property Agents Association president Brendan Wade has also criticised mandatory electronic tags, declaring their introduction would herald a logistical nightmare which would increase producer costs.
"This system is yet to be proven in a commercial environment and will require substantial investment in new infrastructure along the supply chain," Mr Wade said.
RFID tags for sheep are priced at upwards of $1.30 a tag in NSW. ALPA has estimated that when cost factors across the supply chain are taken into account producers can expect an increase of as much as $2 a head.
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