Farmers are lifting their use of animal tracing after changes to strengthen the NAIT* scheme and boost compliance, new data shows.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) director of compliance, Gary Orr, says this is particularly encouraging at this time of year when dairy farmers are moving cows between farms around the annual Moving Day.
"From January to March this year, 77% of animals were registered correctly – a 24% increase over the same period in 2019. And 75% of animal movements were recorded on time (within 48 hours of the movement) – a jump of 11% over the same time in 2019. And 98.7% of animals slaughtered were tagged – an increase of 0.3% from the previous year.
In late 2019 the fine for NAIT offences increased to $400 per animal and Mr Orr says that is quite an incentive to do it right.
"While the fines are not the only driver, we believe these, along with significant communication with farmers, have seen some good improvements in NAIT behaviour.
"There is, however, still room for improvement," Mr Orr says.
"Since the beginning of 2020, 436 infringements have been issued for NAIT offences and more than 800 warnings given for ‘Failure to Register' offences. We need to get a lot better at this.
"Our ability to manage biosecurity threats such as Mycoplasma bovis and other diseases of cattle or deer is heavily dependent on being able to rapidly and accurately trace animal movements."
While Moving Day itself has just passed, many farmers are still moving herds and are urged to have all animals NAIT tagged and registered, their NAIT accounts updated, new NAIT location numbers set up, and TBfree herd records up to date. And when moving livestock, farmers need to complete an Animal Status Declaration (paper or eASD) form and provide it to their transporter. Call OSPRI's freephone if you need help with this – 0800 48 24 63.
Following a review in 2018, significant improvements were made to the NAIT system. For example, the NAIT number was assigned to a location, not a person. The NAIT interface itself was improved to make it easier to use and a mobile app was developed.
Then the NAIT Amendment Bill was passed in December last year, tightening the rules around the handling of untagged animals, improving the use of NAIT data and increasing infringement penalties to reflect the seriousness of NAIT non-compliance.
On 14 June new rules will be introduced around the transportation of animals, introducing penalties for transporters moving untagged animals that do not have an exemption. To ensure their compliance with this amendment, transporters will be requiring farmers to provide declaration paperwork that the animals are identified and registered with NAIT.
OSPRI is currently distributing several thousand books of the new declaration forms to farmers who have a high volume of livestock movements.
* NAIT is short for the National Animal Identification and Tracing system.