Exactly one year since the NSW government announced the national mandatory roll-out of electronic identification tags for sheep and goats, it has finally delivered a funding package.
The government has committed $38 million to support the NSW industry in the implementation of eID - the largest funding package by any state.
NSW government will contribute $31.4m towards the scheme while the Commonwealth will chip in $7.2m.
This does not include any tag subsidies.
The announcement comes after The Land has continually lobbied the NSW government about its funding commitment and given a voice to producers' eID concerns ever since the previous Coalition government announced the roll-out at NSW Farmers' conference in July last year.
From August 1 saleyards and processors will have access to the NSW sheep and goat eID infrastructure rebate, which will be administered by the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.
Saleyards will get a 100 per cent rebate due to high up front infrastructure costs while processors can access 50pc.
NSW Agriculture Minister Tara Moriarty, who will announce the commitment to farmers at the NSW Farmers conference today, said it demonstrated the government's commitment to enhancing traceability systems and supporting the industry to meet this objective.
"We know how important it is to get it right," Ms Moriarty said.
"We've heard industry, they need support to make the move to eID. This announcement demonstrates that we have listened.
"Better traceability will ensure we can respond faster if there is an outbreak of an emergency animal disease and therefore reduce potential impacts on animals, farmers and consumers worldwide."
Ms Moriarty said industry had been involved every step of the way through the NSW sheep and goat traceability reference group, with additional feedback obtained via direct engagement from stakeholders across the sheep and goat supply chain.
She said NSW was still working with the federal government on a national system for improving the price of tags, an issue raised at an agriculture minister's meeting last week.
"We need a coordinated approach to keep the costs as low as possible," she said.
Federal agriculture minister Murray Watt said the investment would go towards the cost of transitioning to an eID system.
"Bringing in an eID system has very strong advantages for our farmers," Mr Watt said.
"When we can tell the story of every animal and prove to our consumers the integrity of our supply chains, we can reassure our trading partners that our products are being produced to the highest possible standards of quality and animal welfare.
"We have a great story to tell of our high-quality produce, and this opens up possibilities for accessing premium markets overseas.
"We know that our produce is sustainable and subject to rigorous standards. With the data and transparency to back it up, the rest of the world will know it as well."
Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association chief executive officer Peter Baldwin said: "we called for funding and we got it".
He gave credit to Ms Moriarty and the NSW Department of Primary Industries for the funding support, but said the implementation of eID would be costly.
"We are not going to sugarcoat it, there will be exponential costs and the industry is going to have to brace themselves for that," Mr Baldwin said.
"ALPA agents have lived through the experience of this in Victoria, we understand what the costs are and we hope this collaboration continues because we know what works and what doesn't work.
"What we will be asking is that the money doesn't burn up in two years and that it's ongoing."
Mr Baldwin said ALPA had pushed strongly for funding support for stock and station agents in the saleyards and the infrastructure itself during the reference group discussions.
"We appreciate that there is an acknowledgement of the greater role stock and station agents play with the broader community particularly for smaller clients in the traceability space and general advice given often out in the paddock, the saleyards and the drafting gate done with financial incentive," he said.
He added the software upgrade in saleyards would be significant and it was vital that software experts were at hand on 'speed dial" so that there was no distraction at a sheep sale.
NSW Farmers' president Xavier Martin said the funding would partially assist producers in transitioning to mandatory eID for sheep and goats, adding the association would closely examine the details.
"We expect that all producers who are required to invest in mandatory eID be able to readily access this funding and receive a rebate so that no one misses out," Mr Martin said.
But Mr Martin said there still remained a significant need to reduce the cost of eID devices to economically affordable levels.
"NSW Farmers policy seeks eID tags for sheep cost no more than $1 per tag, and more affordable tags is a position broadly agreed to by all other SFOs at our meeting in Adelaide last week," he said.
The NSW government will provide additional free eID-specific training and education to help producers, agents and those working in saleyards and processors to understand their requirements with respect to sheep and goat eID.
Training is expected to commence later this year.
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