A Waikato farming company has been handed a record fine of $32,500 over its failure to notify NAIT that it was moving 910 cattle onto its farm.
Te Kuiti-based dairy and beef farming business Rangitoto Dairies Ltd pleaded guilty to one representative charge under the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act 2012 and was sentenced at the Te Kuiti District Court on July 25.
The National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, which maintains a national database of cattle and deer movements, is a critical part of New Zealand’s ability to respond quickly to biosecurity threats.
Ministry for Primary Industries NAIT officers found that the company’s registered person in charge of animals (PICA) for the farm had failed to declare to NAIT that it received 910 cattle from 82 separate movements on farm between July 1 and 18 October 2020.
The company was responsible for the failure of its employee because it did not ensure its employee fully understood the obligations of a PICA.
It also failed to put adequate measures in place to catch any mistakes or failures by the employee or other staff involved in receiving the animals to meet NAIT obligations.
MPI’s acting regional manager of animal welfare and NAIT compliance, Stefan Halberg, said the charge involved hundreds of animals and it takes only one to potentially cause a biosecurity problem, “as learnt from our experience with Mycoplasma bovis”.
“We understand this is the largest NAIT sentence that has been handed down by the courts to date. It should send a strong message to all farmers and businesses with NAIT animals – compliance with the system is a top priority.
“Compliance with the NAIT system ensures we can trace animal movements. This is critical to our ability to act quickly and effectively in the event of an unwanted biosecurity incursion.
“When a person or company in charge of animals fails their NAIT obligations, they potentially put the whole sector at risk.”
Halberg said people in charge of animals must ensure they have tagged and registered their NAIT animals.
“If they’re going off farm to a meat processor or another farm, or if the animals are coming onto the farm, they must declare these movements to NAIT within 48 hours.”
Part of Rangitoto Dairies Ltd’s operation includes buying young calves from about 50 dairy farms, which it then rears and weans.
These weaned calves are sold to other farms.
When new calves arrive on farm, staff are expected to scan the NAIT tags and download them into the database. MPI’s investigation found this wasn’t happening consistently on the farms.
Rangitoto Dairies Ltd as an employer was aware that a breach could happen if these processes were not properly completed but did not put in place adequate checks and balances to ensure this,” MPI said.
“The NAIT tag and registration system is only as effective as the information provided. If you are unsure about what you need to do, reach out. There is plenty of information, advice and support available,” Halberg said.