AUSTRALIAN sheep producers may know by as early as December if their industry is to be subjected to an electronic tagging system in order to remain a supplier to the $150 million European Union market.
This was one of the take home messages delivered by speakers at the National Saleyards Convention held at Colac, last week.
In separate addresses delegates to the convention were informed that property of origin identification was an important aspect of being deemed as an eligible supplier of sheep meats to the EU.
EU senior advisor for trade, economics and agriculture to Australia and New Zealand John Tuckwell told the convention that although it would not be a requirement of importing countries to replicate the electronic tagging system being implemented into the EU later this year. However, under current regulations it remains necessary that each animal be properly identified and each animal be accompanied to the slaughterhouse by relevant information that identifies its holding of provenance (places of origin).
“(The EU) does not specify that each animal needs to be individually identified," Mr Tuckwell stated. "But previous audits of the Australian production system have clearly identified deficiencies, especially mixed lots sold in saleyards which the Australian industry needs to address.”.
Alternative schemes that met these basics needs would be considered, he said.
In an open forum Victorian chair, NLIS Sheep and Goat Advisory committee Stuart McLean advised convention delegates that although Victoria has agreed to a consistent approach to a national traceability scheme (NLIS sheep/goats) it does not believe the current national system, with its recent enhancements, will reach the standards required of the EU traceability requirements.
Mr McLean said although the current system is working, and does provide some traceability, it is in a restrictive way. This he said was highlighted by the recent Sheep-catcher report and a previous EU audits that both concluded there are shortcomings that need to be addressed.
*Extract. Full report Stock & Land, August 20.
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