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National Animal Identification & Tracking System

National Animal Identification & Tracking System under review

20th October

A working group of representatives from various agricultural organisations is reviewing New Zealand’s national animal identification and tracking systems.

The recently formed working group, chaired by Meat & Wool New Zealand Chairman Jeff Grant is evaluating international developments in animal identification and traceability. The group is also assessing New Zealand’s current systems with the intent of making recommendations on practical enhancements that will retain New Zealand’s position in international markets.

“New Zealand needs to reassess its animal identification regime to safeguard the future of the industry and the economy,” Mr Grant said.

“Effectively the group has considered three major drivers for animal identification and traceability. First and foremost is biosecurity, second is market access and third is market preferences.”

“To safeguard our primary agricultural industry and the New Zealand economy it is essential that we maintain an effective control programme in the event of a major disease outbreak. The discovery of Foot and Mouth Disease in the United Kingdom cost the agricultural industry there an estimated £3.1billion and tourism close to £5 billion” Mr Grant said.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Treasury have predicted a case of Foot and Mouth Disease would result in a cumulative loss to New Zealand in GDP of around $6 billion after one year. The scale of impact is difficult to comprehend but the financial cost should convey to us in New Zealand that we must look at our biosecurity systems to ensure that we can manage the risk posed.

An effective traceability system enhances our ability to combat the spread of an exotic disease and minimise its impact. “The sooner we can track down animals implicated in a disease outbreak the sooner we can control it and the less impact it will have on the productive economy.” A very effective and speedy traceability system could limit the area needing to be quarantined, allow unaffected parts of the country to continue producing and limit the effects in overseas markets.

Sound policy around animal identification and tracking will also help New Zealand’s position in resisting the imposition of costly overseas requirements and maintain market access. Overseas markets are continually raising the bar on animal ID and traceability and we don’t want to be in the position of having to adopt someone else’s system.

“Current market pressures will continue to increase over animal traceability and we need to make sure New Zealand's systems are effective. One of the largest meat buyers in the world has recently signaled that animal identification is a core competency the industry has to develop.”

“This national animal identification and tracking system study is being driven by both industry and government. We need to appreciate and consider carefully the costs and benefits of any changes that will impact on current systems” Mr Grant said.


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