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Feds Say No to NAIT

22 May 2008

Feds Say No to NAIT

Federated Farmers says it questions the value of government investing in a National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) initiative for cattle and deer.

In today's budget the Minister of Agriculture announced the spending of nearly $5 million on this initiative which is aimed at improving food safety.

But Federated Farmers President Charlie Pedersen says the initiative risks loading additional cost onto farmers for no tangible price benefit. He says the Federation has always been sceptical about the idea and says if it was so good, processing companies could make it compulsory by making it a condition of supply, which they haven't.

"This weekend I am having discussions with my counterpart from Australia where such a scheme is compulsory just to check again whether they are getting a premium in the market and I am pretty sure that they are not.

"The reality of the situation is that once the animal is in the works, the tag is gone, so there is no way that an individual cut of meat can be accurately traced to the plate. I look forward to the day when a restaurateur in New York can wave his cell phone over a lamb chop, and on the screen will appear a picture of the farmer who raised this animal."

Mr Pedersen says the system of electronic tagging is fine as a management tool on-farm where some incremental gains can be made, but he says its value as a means of attracting a price premium in overseas markets or where it improves food safety has yet to be proven.

ENDS

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