Livestock Identification System under Fresh Fire

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Beef Association has launched a fresh attack on the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) following comments from a Japanese restaurant chain that serves Australian beef.
calendar icon 16 January 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

ABA chairman Brad Bellinger said that remarks from Zensho, which owns 3,000 restaurants, make a mockery of NLIS.

Mr Bellinger said the company has commented that consumers would not trust an identification system, no matter how sophisticated, if a case of BSE occured.

"This is precisely what the ABA has been saying for the last five years; - that NLIS is irrelevant to enhance market access and massive failures in the system have made it unreliable as a disease control mechanism," said Mr Bellinger.

He added that last week, at the Wodonga saleyards 10,000 cattle were sold over three days but they were not able to be scanned back for checking lifetime traceability status, as the Telecom cable was cut at the saleyards and no phone or fax link was available to the MLA database.

"The cattle NLIS has proven to be the most expensive 'white elephant' ever forced onto the production sector."
Australian Beef Association Chairman Brad Bellinger

"While we understand the problem has now been rectified, this makes a mockery of the recent CowCatcher exercise where it was claimed 300 cattle had a 99 per cent traceback within 48 hours," he said.

"You can forget about sheep NLIS using RFID, if the disaster of cattle RFID is any example. Twenty million dollars has been spent by the Howard Government and a similar amount by the States while, producers have been forced to wear a $220 million bill for tags and reading charges. The cattle NLIS has proven to be the most expensive 'white elephant' ever forced onto the production sector.

"It seems that nobody wants it, other than the perpetrators of the scheme, the tag companies, Cattle Council and the Meat Industry Club; - obviously they are not the ones paying for it."

Mr Bellinger added: 'We know that to rely on the NLIS database for tracing of cattle in a case of a disease outbreak would be farcical, as producers who are at the coal face and are valiantly attempting to operate the system knows; - that it is just not working."

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