Australian Livestock Saleyards Association’s (ALSA) Mark McDonald and Sheep and Goats Identification Advisory Committee chair Stuart McLean have welcomed the announcement of Victorian Government funding to help the sheep industry transition to mandatory electronic identification tags.

State stumps up $17m for eIDS

The State government has announced a $17million package, to support the introduction of electronic identification technology for sheep and goat producers.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford made the announcement at a meeting of Victorian livestock saleyards operators, agents, transporters in Ballarat on Friday.

From 1 January 2017, all new born sheep and goats in Victoria will require electronic tags. 

“This transition will open up productivity right across our sheep and goat industries,” Ms Pulford said. 

Mr Pulford said the government would help by offering subsidised tags, infrastructure grants, co-funded equipment grants and an education program to support sheep and goat producers, saleyards, abattoirs, processors and service providers.

The cheapest electronic tags available to Victorian sheep and goat producers in 2017 will be 35 cents each. Ms Pulford said the cost of tags for 2018 and 2019 would be announced in the first half of next year, following a tender process.

To enable cost neutral tags the government would provide a tag subsidy of up to $7.7 million.

Sheep and goat producers only need to purchase electronic tags to comply with the new regulations.

In addition, producers could also access co-funded grants to purchase equipment and software.

Feedback received from more than 400 stakeholders, including more than 40 written submissions, through the consultation process helped shape both the transition package and standards that underpin the implementation of this crucial reform.

Ms Pulford said the electronic system would run alongside the visual system, which was anticipated to be fully implemented in 2022.

“We've carefully structured this package to ensure all parts of the supply chain get the support they need, and we look forward to seeing industry work collaboratively to adopt the new system.”

“We will of course continue to listen to all parts of the industry through to the final stages of implementation in 2022. Consultation has been a hallmark of this transition package and it will remain central to the steps ahead.”

Ms Pulford said she was proud that Victoria was leading the transition, as it had done with when it first introduced the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) electronic tags of cattle in 2002.

The Victorian Farmers’ Federation’s (VFF’s) livestock group president Leonard Vallance said he had every confidence the change could be delivered by the industry.

Sheep and Goats Identification Advisory Committee chair Stuart McLean said the transition would throw up some challenges for the industry but would also build on existing investments.

Australian Livestock Saleyards Association’s (ALSA) Mark McDonald said similar systems had been running in Europe for three or four years with sheep. He said drawing on overseas and domestic experiences with cattle, could help ALSA members and others in the industry transition to electronic tagging of sheep.

He said the funding announcement – which included two phases of funding for saleyards targeting planing and implementation – helped to make the process “more concrete” to the industry. The government will assess saleyards’ funding applications by case basis.

“It’s been a long time coming; it’s been on the cards for five or six years, while going for a national system, but we think once Victoria gets going, other states will follow,” Mr McDonald said.

Ms Pulford added the the Queensland Government's Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will take on an official observer role.

Mr McDonald said following the saleyard workshop, roll-out plans would be developed.

The Minister said they were aiming for an 80 per cent compliance rate by March 2018.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the mandatory electronic tagging of sheep would boost Victoria's biosecurity and shore up trade.
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