Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has welcomed the Government’s passing of amendments to improve the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Act.
Dave Harrison, B+LNZ’s general manager policy and advocacy, said: “Mycoplasma bovis has demonstrated that it is critical to be able to trace movements of animals between farms in the event of a biosecurity incursion and effective compliance forms an important part of that process.
“The amendments today represent a good first step towards improving the NAIT system and provide greater clarity about enforcement.
“Those farmers who work hard to comply with NAIT requirements have increasingly been asking for stronger penalties and compliance actions against those who put the industry at risk and this will give them confidence that some action is being taken.
“Beef + Lamb New Zealand looks forward to working with the Government on further improvements to NAIT to ensure it meets New Zealand’s biosecurity interests and the needs of farmers.”
The package of technical law changes to support the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme was announced by Minister of Biosecurity Damien O’Connor.
O’Connor said the response to cattle disease Mp. bovis had highlighted problems in the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) – primarily farmers not registering animal movements and a lack of compliance activities to ensure NAIT’s use.
The changes to the NAIT Act 2012, made under urgency in Parliament this week, will:
- Align the NAIT Act search powers with the Search and Surveillance Act.
- Make it clear that all animal movements must be declared to NAIT, even if the new location is not a registered NAIT location.
- Hold to account those who fail to declare those movements to NAIT.
These changes go no further than powers that already exist under other Acts, which allow officers to lawfully obtain information where non-compliance is an issue, said O’Connor.
Three infringement offences have also been created under the Animal Products Act 1999 related to non-compliance with certain Animal Status Declaration requirements.
“Thirdly, we are making Mp. bovis a notifiable organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, meaning people who suspect the presence of the disease in a new location must report it to MPI,” said O’Connor. Prompt reporting is necessary to eradicate the disease.
“A well-functioning NAIT is a key part of our efforts to protect our vital primary industries from pests and disease,” he said.
“Farmers and industry have been asking MPI to increase compliance so that people who are not complying can be held to account.
“Since getting the NAIT Review in April, compliance activities have been stepped up with hundreds of on-farm checks, compliance warnings, stock truck checks and 39 infringement notices – compared with one in the previous five years.
“Today’s legislation marks another meaningful step in bolstering NAIT. We are already implementing nearly two dozen changes that don’t require legislative change, and will revisit NAIT legislation again in coming months after consulting on more changes, including making NAIT easier to use.
“Farmers know that the Government is here to help them in times of biosecurity threats and wants to improve a system that was left without change for too long by the previous administration,” said Damien O’Connor.