To editor Weekly Times – by Brad Bellinger
The relentless push to introduce NLIS using electronic tags for sheep is evident in the report
Tag Crisis, Weekly Times Jan 12, 2010. The Report ignores the fact that after six years of
cattle NLIS using RFID tags and a centralised data-base, the system has failed dismally. An
independent Audit into the scheme in 2009 involving the movements of 57 000 cattle, revealed
that 34.5% had lost whole of life traceability.This concludes that cattle NLIS could not be used as a means of effectively controlling a major
disease outbreak. The Audit also revealed that over time the incidence of lost traceability is
increasing. This is consistent with the findings of the Price Waterhouse Audit that inaccuracies
in the system if not remedied would snowball over time.
Government and the Weekly Times through the editorial in the same edition of the newspaper
are irresponsible in using scaremongering tactics such as the control of a Foot and Mouth
outbreak for the implementation of RFID tags for sheep. With an estimated 24 million wild
pigs roaming rural Australia, any measure to trace cattle and sheep would be irrelevant in the
containment of the disease. With an estimated 24 million wild pigs roaming rural Australia,
any measure to trace cattle and sheep would be irrelevant in the containment of the disease.
The NSW Impact Statement for the introduction of NLIS states on page 39, “high risk
movements through saleyards and abattoirs over the critical few weeks of the incubation
period for the disease may be satisfactorily traced by the current transaction identification
The 10 million dollar cost of bolstering sheep NLIS, pales into insignificance considering
the cost of RFID NLIS. With over 90 million tags registered on the cattle data-base and an
additional 34 million dollars of Federal and State Government money thrown at it, cattle NLIS
has become a half billion dollar white elephant’.
The ABA congratulates the Sheep Meats Council in their opposition to Sheep RFID NLIS.
They are aware of the extra cost and associated workload to producers of mandated RFID tags.
Unfortunately Animal Health Australia and The Weekly Times are not sensitive to the costs to
State Labor Governments were responsible for the Cattle NLIS mess; – let’s hope that the new
Coalition Government in Victoria will ask the farmers themselves if they want RFID mandated
for sheep; – after all it is the producers who must wear 90 % of the cost.
ASHFORD NSW 2361
02 6725 4282
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