Lever for high standard food production

It’s happened at last. New Zealand’s new National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme has gone live, which is  welcome news for beef exporters, adding another level of traceability to their product lines

The new National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Act, which came into effect on 1 July, sets out the legal framework for the collection of information on livestock, their location and movement history throughout their lifetime. It also outlines the governance arrangement and powers for the NAIT organisation.

The scheme is mandatory for cattle from 1 July 2012 and for deer on 1 March 2013 and, according to MPI director general Wayne McNee, forms part of New Zealand’s world-class biosecurity system.

“In the event of a disease outbreak, NAIT and Farms Online will help give assurance to our export markets that New Zealand has identified and contained all of the affected animals.”

Under the NAIT scheme, cattle and deer are tagged with an electronic NAIT-approved RFID ear tag and the NAIT database stores information about each animal’s individual RFID number, its location and the contact details of the person in charge of the animal.

Announcing the news, Primary Industries Minister David Carter said: “NAIT is an important partnership between industry and the Crown which began eight years ago in recognition of the growing need for better animal identification and tracing systems.”

The Minister is delighted that over 30,000 producers and their properties are already registered on the database, which he says is a significant step in protecting New Zealand’s farmers in the international marketplace.

“Lifetime animal traceability is an asset that New Zealand can leverage as part of its international reputation for producing food to the highest standards. It is also an opportunity for farmers to increase productivity by identifying superior animals.”

MIA chief executive Tim Ritchie reiterated the MIA’s support for NAIT: “We see NAIT as an essential tool to minimise and manage risk and impact in the event of a biosecurity incursion and, also, to provide customers and regulatory authorities in our export markets with increased confidence and surety of the integrity of New Zealand’s meat and meat products,” he said.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2012).

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