New South Wales Calls Urgently for Electronic Tagging of Sheep and Goats

By Jessie Zhang
Jessie Zhang
Jessie Zhang
Jessie Zhang is a reporter based in Sydney, Australia, covering news on health and science.
July 20, 2022Updated: July 20, 2022

The New South Wales (NSW) state government is proposing a more evolved electronic identification tagging system for sheep and goats with Australian agriculture ministers on July 20 amid concerns a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak could wipe out parts of its agriculture sector.

Currently, Australian cattle are able to be traced through electronic tagging under the National Livestock Identification System. However, the industry still relies on a mob-based system for tracing the movement of sheep and goats.

A mob-based tracing system uses visual identification instead of electronic identification, allowing livestock to be traced with greater efficiency and accuracy.

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said that the state government is pushing for the Federal Government to increase biosecurity measures further to keep the FMD crisis out of Australia.

“The FMD crisis in Indonesia is a significant threat to our livestock industry with the potential to cost the Australian economy $80 billion and send shockwaves through regional communities for years to come,” Saunders said in a statement.

“Individual traceability for sheep and goats will be crucial during an emergency disease outbreak and deliver benefits across the supply chain.”

“An effective national traceability system is critical to ensure NSW can continue exporting more than $1 billion in sheep meat each year.”

Travellers Advised to Throw Out Thongs

Farmers have also urged travellers from Indonesia to bin their thongs before arriving in order to protect Australian farms.

President of the National Farmers’ Federation, Fiona Simson, said treating yourself to a new pair of shoes while on holiday had never been a greater act of national service.

She said those people throwing away their old footwear will be given a voucher for a new pair of shoes.

Travellers returning from Indonesia can now access a 30 percent Ringers Western discount code, by posting evidence online that they’ve thrown out their shoes overseas.

“Throw out those tired, old thongs. Bin them at the airport or your hotel and post proof on social media, and we’ll help you buy a shiny new pair,” Simson said.

Saunders said the sheep and goats tracking system needs to be implemented nationwide to ensure consistency and functionality across all states.

It also needs to be developed hand in hand with industry to ensure it is practical and cost-effective.

Sheep Producers Australia CEO Bonnie Skinner supported the move to implement a stronger sheep traceability program.

“The rapid and reliable tracing of livestock plays a significant part in emergency disease response,” she said.

“The faster the animals are traced, the greater the chance of controlling the disease outbreak and minimising its economic and social effects.”