No-tag no-buy policy from July 1

By By Rowena McNaughton
Updated January 5 2016 - 6:16pm, first published June 6 2007 - 11:00pm

SHEEP producers failing to tag their animals under the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) could find themselves with unsaleable stock from July 1.Processor members of the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) including Australia’s largest sheepmeat processor, Fletcher International Exports, will implement a “no-tag no-buy” policy from next month.AMIC has also called for an end to exemptions under the sheep NLIS program and the implementation of a nationally consistent colour- coded year of birth tag. Under current NLIS regulations, sheep born before 2006 could be sold without a year-of-birth tag.However, from July 1 they may not find a buyer, at least among the processor heavyweights.Fletcher International Exports’ Roger Fletcher said he had no choice but to source only tagged sheep and lambs from next month or risk losing key international customers.“If we can’t prove where stock came from then we will lose the best markets – and unfortunately the ones that demand tags are the better markets,” Mr Fletcher said.“When you walk into a supermarket you take it for granted that the product is safe, and in order for the supermarket to guarantee this then they must know where the raw material came from.“This is the cheapest, simplest way to cover our backside.”For those reluctant to tag stock, Mr Fletcher pointed to the success of the nation’s beef industry, which through strict safety regulations maintained trade with Japan and South Korea when access was limited. Given the successful use of tags in Western Australia for 30 years, Mr Fletcher was optimistic untagged sheep would disappear.The Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association has backed Fletcher’s stance and said the company’s tough stance served as a timely reminder that producers must have their stock tagged in order to attract full competition.Chief executive Andy Madigan said it came down to traceability.“Processors need to be able to say where stock came from in order to keep markets open,” Mr Madigan said. “If our clients want to get full competition they will have to tag sheep or face the likelihood of not being able to sell their stock.”The Australian Beef Association has slammed the move – and ALPA’s support for it – and urged Fletcher to reveal the names of companies that would refuse to buy product “unless the sheep it is butchered from has a tag in their ear”.Chairman Brad Bellinger urged producers to weigh up their options before buying tags.“With sheep numbers at historically low levels of around 85 million and our major sheep producing areas finally experiencing good rains, we are in a good position to resist the threats issued by some processors and some stock agents,” Mr Bellinger said.

Get the latest VIC news in your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.