Media Release

Improved arrangements for sheep and goat identification

22 October 2014

Agriculture Ministers yesterday agreed that state and territory governments will make necessary improvements to the National Livestock identification Scheme for sheep and goats by building on the systems already in place. Each jurisdiction will aim for improved traceability, either by enhancing the current mob-based system or by introducing electronic identification ear tags.

The decision was made by the Agriculture Ministers' Forum, comprised of ministers responsible for agriculture in each state and territory and chaired by Minister Joyce, in a meeting dedicated to the issue yesterday afternoon.

"The Agriculture Ministers' Forum considered three options for the future of sheep and goat identification in the supply chain," Minister Joyce said.

"National enhancement of the current mob-based system as endorsed by the Agriculture Ministers' Forum is by far the most sensible outcome and I’m very pleased with this result.

"This government has made a clear commitment to reducing unnecessary red tape for farmers and today’s decision improves traceability with the least possible burden on producers."

Two other options considered by the Forum were based on the introduction of electronic identification systems. All options were analysed as part of a Regulation Impact Statement prepared by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Research Economics and Science (ABARES), which received 108 public submissions on the issue.

"A key consideration for any option is the cost of meeting traceability benchmarks," Minister Joyce said.

"The cost of electronic tags ranges between 80 cents and $1.60 per animal. These are costs that would need to be met by each state and the industry itself – forcing electronic identification systems onto the entire industry simply can't be justified in the current environment.

"The majority of producers, industry bodies, veterinary organisations, animal welfare groups, researchers and governments who responded to the public submission process agree."

The National Livestock Identification System is Australia’s system for the identification and traceability of livestock. It aims to enhance Australia’s capacity to trace livestock from property of birth to slaughter for biosecurity, meat safety, product integrity and market access purposes.

A copy of the Regulatory Impact Statement and all submissions can be found online.