Feds: NAIT changes are a step in the right direction
Federated Farmers is heartened that the Primary Production Select Committee has recommended logical and workable changes to National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) legislation.
"It’s clear that Select Committee members listened carefully to representations from Federated Farmers and others. As a result the NAIT Amendment Bill (No 2) reported back to the House last week is a step in the right direction," Feds Meat and Wool Chairperson Miles Anderson says.
"Upfront is acknowledgment that changes to the NAIT Act are only part of the planned improvements to the identification and tracing system and that significant progress is still needed on operational and ease-of-use matters to ensure we have a system that is fit for purpose and able to deal with foreseeable future risks."
The original proposal suggested the government would own the core data entered on NAIT. Federated Farmers was dead against this idea, when the existing legislation already enables access to NAIT information in a transparent manner.
"We felt that this was the Crown trying to appropriate private property without compensation and are happy the select committee is recommending this provision be removed," Anderson says.
Federated Farmers argued that unwarranted layers of complexity would not add value and is pleased the select committee recommended responsibility for moving animals remains with the PICA (‘person in charge of animals’) and not transporters.
"There was also a proposal to remove a provision for ‘unsafe to tag’ animals after five years, which was ill-conceived. The committee has seen this for what it was and has asked that after five years this be reviewed, not removed."
Federated Farmers is right behind the drive to get NAIT working and to lift compliance rates as quickly as possible, but this comes with additional farmer obligations and liabilities as this process accelerates.
Even some experienced farmers still mistakenly believe that when they order animal ear tags coded with their PICA details, and fit them to the ears of their cattle, their job is done. There is another vital step - to get on the phone or computer and register them with NAIT, even if the animals are destined for the processing plant.
"Too many farmers are thinking the tags are traceable and are not finishing the rest of the process," Anderson says.
MPI is cracking down, and handing out infringements at $150 per animal. Currently, the Ministry appears to be limiting this to five infringements at one time, but it doesn’t have to. What’s more, it’s proposed that the fine increases to $400.
"We farmers simply have to get better at this," Anderson says.