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What difference will NAIT actually make Feds ask?

What difference will NAIT actually make Feds ask? 5 October 2008

Federated Farmers President, Don Nicolson today said “The federation is not going to be stopped from asking the hard questions. We have worked behind the scenes but now farmers need to be informed. The first question farmers want an answer to is what difference will a National Animal Identification and Tracing (“NAIT”) system actually make. It has been suggested that there are a number of reasons why we need it so it’s the federation’s job to seek clarity for our members”.

“The federation does want New Zealand to have robust biosecurity systems, managed and timely incursion response process’s and mechanisms that assist trade access. It is right that as a food trading nation we produce nutritious, wholesome and safe food that meets consumer expectation. Farmers will play their part, but it’s not clear that having a brand new Wellington bureaucracy forcing farmers to have a numberplate on every sheep, cow or deer is going to be worth it.

1. We know good biosecurity is about keeping organisms and disease out of our island nation. This means robust measures at the border.

2. Being able to respond to incursions when organisms and disease do get onto our Islands is very important. But does NAIT add much to existing systems?

3. On food safety, we have the world respected Food Safety Authority, and associated legislation and regulations. New Zealand has an excellent reputation for producing safe food. What difference will an animal numberplate make?

4. On trade access there are requirements for all sorts of things, but we are informed by MFAT that having a national animal identification system is not one of them.

5. Farmers are already innovative on their farms and our on farm productivity as a sector has far outstripped any other sector in the economy. If farmers think individually identifying animals is a profitable idea, then they can do that anyway. They don’t need a Government telling them that they must and have a new bureaucracy looking over their shoulder. And there are commercial organisations, such as LIC who offer various associated services.

6. If the market place demands animal identification to individual animals for marketing purposes, then this can be done on a commercial basis without government stepping in and intervening with the market signal. Right now companies, such as Riverlands with their Never Ever Beef programme are doing this and offering premiums to farmers who go to the cost and effort.

“I have written to the NAIT Chair and said we are happy to help facilitate further consultation with farmers. Whatever the outcome of the consultation process on whether NAIT should proceed or not, farmers need answers about this significant proposal,” Mr Nicolson concluded.


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