The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is staying tight-lipped on the way ahead for the National Animal Information and Tracing (NAIT) system, after negotiations with a potential Australian supplier failed.
However, it appears in spite of the delay to NAIT’s implementation, the specification will not be revisited to take account of possible advances in eartag technology since it was first drawn up in 2009.
NAIT will require all cattle and deer to have a radio-frequency identification (RFID) eartag, so the ownership of each animal can be tracked. When the specification and business cases were drawn up, there was criticism that MAF had played safe by using older, low-frequency RFID technology, rather than high-frequency technology, said to enable more reliable reading at greater distances.
MAF and NAIT Ltd, the company owned by the meat and dairy industry set up to manage the scheme, declined last week to give detailed replies to a series of questions on the exact nature of the setback.
“A satisfactory commercial agreement could not be reached between MAF, NAIT Ltd and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) [the Australian prospective partner],” says a MAF spokeswoman.
“Both NAIT Ltd and MAF are currently in commercial negotiations for the development of the information system. “An announcement will be made in a few weeks time when negotiations have been successfully completed.”
NAIT Ltd declined to add to MAF’s statement.
Asked whether the chance would be taken to upgrade the technology specification of any part of the system, the ministry says: “MAF and NAIT’s core requirements for the information system have not changed.”
MAF declined to give an estimated date for NAIT to begin operation.
“It was supposed to go live on November 1,” says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills. “We understand we’re now looking at early next year.” Federated Farmers is represented on the NAIT Ltd stakeholder reference group.