NAIT tags must be registered

NAIT tags must be registered

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A fundamental requirement of an animal traceability scheme is that the tagged animal must be registered, not just tagged. But some farmers appear to believe it’s enough to buy and insert their NAIT tags. The next step, registering the animal with NAIT, is not happening.

The legal obligation to do this is being brought home to those farmers in the form of infringement notices issued by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
Compliance manager Peter Hyde is hoping that by “getting a few tickets out there”, the word will get around and compliance rates will improve.

“If an animal is not registered, it is incredibly easily for us to detect when it reaches the DSP. Potentially this can cost a farmer $400 an animal.”

Hyde says MPI is being notified of whole lines of deer that have not been registered, but to cushion the blow it is limiting the number of infringement notices issued for a single consignment to five. “Issuing five notices is not uncommon,” he says.

Once NAIT animals are tagged, the law says they must be registered with NAIT within seven days, or before their first off-farm movement, whichever comes first. 

If an animal loses its NAIT tag, it must be given a special replacement tag and re-registered with NAIT as soon as practicable. If it is found to have lost its tag before going on the truck for slaughter, the replacement tag must be registered with NAIT before the animal leaves the farm.

Image: They are tagged, but are they registered with NAIT? Photo by Jamie Ward

NZ Deer Farmers Association executive committee chair John Somerville says MPI and Ospri have stepped up their enforcement of NAIT rules in the wake of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak in cattle.

“Until recently the need to register deer after tagging them was not communicated well to farmers by Ospri. Nor was it enforced by MPI, so those farmers who are being fined for non-compliance will not be happy,” he says.

Somerville urges deer farmers to comply. “It’s in our interests both as individual farmers and as an industry to have an effective animal traceability scheme that underpins our biosecurity and market quality assurance. We need NAIT to work well.” 

Widespread non-compliance with NAIT in the dairy and beef industries led to long delays in tracking infected animals and has greatly added to the cost of Mycoplasma bovis control.

He says the NZDFA is meeting with Ospri, which operates the NAIT scheme, in February.

“The DFA is fully aware that despite the benefits of NAIT there are some aspects of the scheme and how it is enforced that are an ongoing irritation for deer farmers. I share that irritation, but let’s not forget the big picture. It will be easier for us to make the case for change if our members are complying with NAIT rules, particularly those to do with tagging, registering and recording movements to and from the farm,” Somerville says.

The Ospri contact centre is currently reporting an average phone call response time of 1 minute 39 seconds. The role of the staff at the centre is to help farmers meet their NAIT obligations, answer any queries and to do this in a timely manner.

Ospri also plans to increase on-the-ground regional assistance for NAIT users in 2020. 

Image: NZDFA chair John Somerville


The NAIT Bill is now law

The National Animal Identification and Tracing Amendment Bill is now law. It does not change the fundamentals of the NAIT system.

It amends the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act 2012 to ensure cattle and deer can be accurately traced to better manage biosecurity and human health risks. The Act is based on the recommendations of the OSPRI-led NAIT Review of 2016-18 and issues identified during the biosecurity response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

To improve traceability, after a 12 month transition period, NAIT tags will only be able to be used at the location for which they were issued. The ‘impracticable to tag’ exemption (ITT) has been renamed ‘unsafe to tag’ (UTT) so that the focus is on risks to worker safety. All untagged animals must be visibly marked. This exemption will be reviewed in five years.

Another change for farmers will be the need to declare at the foot of each Animal Status Declaration that the animals leaving the farm are tagged and registered, or legally exempt from tagging. If stock transport operators accept deer or cattle without this declaration, they are at risk of prosecution for moving non-compliant animals. There is a six month transition period before this obligation will be enforced. 

NAIT data will be able to be used by government agencies to respond to inquiries about stock theft, wandering stock and dead stock in a public place. Before buying stock, purchasers will be able to request a NAIT report on the animals’ location history.

Penalties under the Act have been brought into line with those in the Biosecurity Act 1993 and Animal Products Act 1999. Infringement fees for NAIT non-compliance are now $400 for each offence, up from $150. Not registering as a PICA (person in control of animals) has gone up from $300 to $800. A judge can now impose a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, and up to $200,000 for a body corporate.

Farmer responsibilities under the NAIT legislation are detailed here >>