A cohort of 27 new NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) compliance officers are ready to hit the ground and start working with farmers after graduating from their training programme on Friday.
Animal welfare and NAIT compliance manager Gray Harrison says the new officers are part of a stepped-up effort to educate farmers about their NAIT obligations and enforce compliance with the scheme.
"The new officers will be located throughout the country helping farmers use NAIT consistently and taking action when non-compliance is detected.
"The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has issued 97 infringement notices to farmers for non-compliance with NAIT since the start of 2018.
"In addition, OSPRI (which manages the NAIT scheme) has issued more than 600 letters to farmers about non-compliance."
Mr Harrison says there has been a steady increase in the number of animal movements recorded through NAIT.
"We're pleased to see there has been an almost 20% increase in the number of animal movements recorded this year compared to the same period in 2017.
"It is essential all farmers, including lifestylers, register their cattle and deer in NAIT and record all animal movements.
"A well-functioning NAIT scheme is a vital part of our national biosecurity system as it helps MPI respond to and manage animal diseases, such as Mycoplasma bovis."
Mr Harrison says that changes are being made by MPI and OSPRI to improve the scheme and ensure it is fit for the future.
"It is important farmers know that OSPRI is there to help if they have any questions or concerns about their NAIT account. They've got experienced staff on hand who know how to use the system and want to help."
"MPI is currently consulting the public on potential changes to the NAIT Act and regulations to improve the scheme."
Farmers have until 19 December to have their say on MPI's proposed law changes.
OSPRI is making operational changes to improve the scheme, including making the system faster and easier to use.
The NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) scheme requires anybody in charge of cattle and deer to register their animals and record any animal movements.
NAIT officers ensure those who are subject to the NAIT Act are aware of and are compliant with, their obligations under the law. Their day-to-day work will include checking farms and lifestyle blocks, educating people in charge of cattle and deer about their obligations and enforcing the NAIT Act where required to do so.
The graduation ceremony was held at the Ministry for Primary Industries' Christchurch office on Friday.