Friday, June 2, 2023

eID committee survives

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A committee charged with assessing the benefits, risks and costs of implementing eID tags for sheep and goats in SA has survived a tied 10-10 vote of no confidence.

A call for its removal came after a two-hour debate where farmers spoke for and against mandatory eID tags in sheep and goats.

But a vote was tied 10-10 with most farmers, in a room of 54 people abstaining.

Of particular concern during the debate was the seemingly flawed NLIS system for cattle regarding its data and compliance, despite it being introduced more than 20 years ago.

Several farmers were also appalled to hear that the questions of their representative on the steering committee, Duan Williams, had been ignored.

Mr Williams had called for data, evidence and information in order to assess the benefits, risks and costs of implementing eID tags, and for an exemption to be considered for vendor-bred sheep from farm to the abattoir.

After two hours of debate, prime lamb producer Peter Altschwager said: “From what has been said here today, I have a complete lack of confidence in the SA Sheep and Goat Traceability Committee to formulate a policy position based on facts and proven evidence.

“This policy does not appear to support the position of many sheep producers who foot the bill for electronic tags.

“I move that Livestock SA remove the current SA Sheep and Goat Traceability Committee – to be replaced by a committee who acknowledge sheep are the major stakeholders who will bear the additional costs and workload.

“This committee is to be made up of genuine sheep producers.”

Former Member for MacKillop, Mitch Williams, seconded it.

Former SA Farmers Federation Sheep Meat Council member Julie Lloyd spoke against it, claiming it was “crazy stuff”, and pleaded with farmers not to support the motion.

Primary Producers SA president Joe Keynes said all of the concerns raised would be taken back to the board.

During the meeting Livestock SA board member and Furner producer Richard Kirkland highlighted the many agents and other people he had discussed the issue with, both locally and in Victoria, where mandatory eID tags were introduced in 2017.

Mr Kirkland believed most of those in Victoria – 70-80 per cent – were getting on okay with it and some acknowledged there were benefits of the scheme.

He said everyone was focussed on putting a tag in an ear, but people took their dogs to the vet to put a microchip in.

“I think there are other ways of tracking animals with a chip or something like that in the future,” Mr Kirkland said.

Mitch Williams said he seconded the motion because he wanted to send the strongest message possible to Livestock SA that “we are more than disappointed; we are gutted with the representation we’ve got on this particular issue”.

Journalist Catherine Miller asked what proportion of the number of sheep in the State would be needed to support an exemption.

Mr Tobin said there would need to be a majority.

Mr Williams said a decision should be based not on a poll, but on a cost benefit analysis.

Conmurra’s Elke Hocking said if you don’t put a tag on, the processor walks past, “and the cost is, you don’t get paid”.

Mr Williams: “That’s pure speculation”.

Woolumbool’s Patrick Ross said there was a motion, and a seconder, and indicated if there was a vote “We’re home”.

Duan Williams called the vote for those in favour – 10 people put up their hands.

He called a vote for those against, and 10 people put up their hands. But most people abstained.

Lucindale producer Malcolm Graetz explained he was a strong supporter of an exemption, but he did not vote for or against the motion to remove and replace the steering committee.

“I don’t believe there’s a big enough representation (in the room) to put through a move (to remove and replace the steering committee) on behalf of (all) SA producers,” he said.

Naracoorte Community News 25 January 2023

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.


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