“It’s a step in the right direction and clearly the select committee members listened to representations from Federated Farmers and others,” Feds meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson said.
“We are heartened that the Primary Production Select Committee has recommended logical and workable changes to Nait legislation.
“As a result the Nait Amendment Bill reported back to the House last week is a step in the right direction.”
Upfront is acknowledgment that changes to the Nait Act are only part of the planned improvements to the identification and tracing system and that significant progress is still needed on operational and ease-of-use matters to ensure New Zealand has a fit-for-purpose system.
“And one able to deal with foreseeable future risks,” he said.
The original proposal suggested the Government would own the core data entered on Nait but the select committee recommends that be removed.
Anderson said Federated Farmers was dead against that because existing law already enables access to Nait information in a transparent manner.
“We felt that this was the Crown trying to appropriate private property without compensation and are happy the select committee is recommending this provision be removed.”
It has also recommended the responsibility for moving animals is that of the person in charge of the animals (PICA) and not the transporters.
Federated Farmers and the transport industry argued unwarranted layers of complexity will not add value.
There was also an initial proposal to remove a provision for unsafe to tag animals after five years, which Anderson said was ill-conceived.
“The committee has seen this for what it was and has asked that after five years this be reviewed, not removed.”
Anderson said Federated Farmers is right behind the drive to get Nait working and to lift compliance rates as quickly as possible but that comes with extra farmer obligations and liabilities as the process accelerates.
Even some experienced farmers still mistakenly believe that when they order animal ear tags coded with their PICA details and fit them to the ears of their cattle their job is done.
There is another vital step, to get on the phone or computer and register them with Nait, even if the animals are destined for the processing plant.
“Too many farmers are thinking the tags are traceable and are not finishing the rest of the process.
“We farmers simply have to get better at this,” Anderson said.
It is proposed to increase non-compliance fines from $150 to $400 an animal.