Deregulation of Livestock Earmarks and Hide Brands

30 June 1998

The deregulation of earmarks and hide brands, which identify livestock ownership, will be completed at the end of this month.

The transition to a deregulated system has been in progress since 1995. Before which it was a statutory requirement for MAF Quality Management (MQM) to register livestock marks. The provisions of the Animals Act 1967, which are carried forward in the Animal Identification Act 1993, expire on June 30.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has proposed that new regulations are not necessary to register ownership identification systems. For deer and cattle, regulations have been proposed requiring systematic identification for bovine tuberculosis (TB) control purposes with approved eartags. Compulsory identification will be required for all deer and cattle , more than one month old, before it can be moved from its herd, as part of the Animal Health Board's pest management strategy for TB. For sheep earmarks, the brand registration service run by MQM since 1995 has already demonstrated it can operate successfully without recourse to regulations. Other animal industries have the option of proposing identification systems for approval and voluntary use under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

MAF and the Department of Conservation are addressing the status of farmed deer escaping onto neighbouring private land, and farmed goats in general. These animals are protected under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 if they carry identification belonging to a system registered under the Animals Identification Act. MAF and DOC are looking at the possibility of amending this statute to include identifications approved under the Biosecurity Act such as those proposed for deer tags.

Farmers will be able to continue registering earmarks and brands at their local MQM office. Those holding expired earmarks will be invited to re-register with the non-statutory MQM brand registration service over the next 12 months, after which MQM intends to begin re-issuing unclaimed earmarks.

The MQM service is designed to overcome a problem of registered marks which have become obsolete. Once registered, a mark became the property of a farmer forever, unless formally cancelled or transferred. With no incentive to do this, the register became full of obsolete marks. The manual register accumulated more than 40,000 marks over 50 years, making it impossible to verify which marks were current when issuing new ones. Finding unique design marks also became difficult. In future, farmers using the service will have to re-register every five years.

For further information contact:

Ashley Edge, Policy Advisory Officer, MAF Regulatory Authority, ph: (04) 474 4100
or Gita Parsot, MAF Communications, 04 498 9806.



Last Updated: 08 September 2010

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