The controversial NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) scheme has gone live on the planned date of July 1, Minister for Primary Industries David Carter has announced.
Already about half of farmers in charge of cattle have registered on the scheme, despite initial scepticism from farmers and their organisation, Federated Farmers as to the need for a completely new scheme; some felt existing arrangements could be adapted. However, later comments from Federated Farmers indicated wider acceptance.
Problems with the initial arrangement for development of the necessary software on the basis of an Australian model led to this being canned last year and the system redeveloped by Fronde, with elements from e-Spatial and Revera.
NAIT is designed to provide traceability of individual cattle and farmed deer. This will enhance New Zealand’s ability to respond quickly to a food safety scare or a biosecurity threat, and give added confidence to trading partners, says the NAIT organisation.
July 1 marks the date when NAIT becomes formally compulsory for everyone in charge of cattle, including the owners of “lifestyle” blocks. However, in practice, it is the start of a “transition period”, says NAIT CEO Russell Burnard. Farmers and other industry participants, such as meatworks, have to adopt new processes. To enable animals to be traced, people in charge of cattle need to register with NAIT, tag and register their stock, and record when animals move off-farm.
“This behaviour change will take time to achieve,” Burnard says. “We are committed to working with farmers and industry to help them meet their NAIT obligations.”
Almost 35,000 participants had registered as at July 3. There are about 70,000 cattle herds in the country. “We are happy with the number of registrations so far,” Burnard says. Now registration is mandatory “we expect this total to continue to rise. Farmers who don’t register may find it more difficult to transfer animals from their farms.”
Deer join the scheme on 1 March 2013.