Federated Farmers and NAIT (National Animal Identification and Training) are at loggerheads over the National Animal Identification and Tracing Bill, which had its first reading this week.
In a media release, Federated Farmers claims the Bill is a step toward establishing a costly new bureaucracy impacting lifestylers and farmers alike.
“Isn’t it ironic that on the day the Government opened its books, revealing a massive spending deficit, that a new and expensive bureaucracy was introduced as legislation,” says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers co-spokesman on animal identification.
“The NAIT concept may sound reasonable to those outside the farm gate, but for those inside it, we know there’s traceability right now as that’s how we get paid.”
He says that while low-frequency radio identification (LF-RFID) technology may be proven, it is not much of an improvement over barcodes or visual tags.
“LF-RFID doesn’t offer the growth potential of ultra-high frequency and is a technological cul-de-sac,” he says.
NAIT chairman Ted Coats says there is no jurisdiction in the world that is using ultra-high and thus no comfort level to roll it out in New Zealand.
“However, as soon as it becomes viable, we could adapt the low frequency RFID,” he says.
“Federated Farmers talks about on-farm benefits but this doesn’t address risk management in the modern climate.
“With RFID we could identify a contaminated product, trace it and convince our trading partners to continue [ with us].
“It’s simply not true what they’re saying. What’s out there now protects our international obligations but not as well as we can do it. There’s no doubt that this is where we have to go.”
He says countries like Namibia and those in South America are already using RFID.
There are currently three RFID suppliers in New Zealand: Allslex, originally a New Zealand company but now owned by French interests; Zeetag, a New Zealand company; and Leader, from Australia. All are providing generic technology.