Biosecurity angst after Brands Act axed by govt

SA govt repeals livestock branding act


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MAINTAINING SA’s biosecurity integrity and effectiveness in identifying stolen livestock could become more difficult now the state government has repealed the Brands Act 1933.

MAINTAINING SA’s biosecurity integrity and effectiveness in identifying stolen livestock could become more difficult with the state government repealing the Brands Act 1933.

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The Act ceased on January 1, with Biosecurity SA executive director Will Zacharin stating the ‘old’ system of branding cattle, sheep and goats had been superseded by the introduction of the National Livestock Identification System and Property Identification Codes.

“The primary purpose of the PIC and NLIS is to support the detection, control and eradication of notifiable animal diseases, through the use of individual identification devices regulated by the NLIS, which matches an animal to a PIC,” he said.

“NLIS requires all cattle, sheep and goats to be individually identified before being moved from their property of origin, and once identified, these identifiers in the form of ear tags must not be removed until slaughter. As a result, Biosecurity SA believes there are no longer biosecurity benefits in maintaining a brand.”

However Livestock SA president Geoff Power said a government-administered brands system was crucial to biosecurity and identification in the local livestock industry.

“It is disappointing this system has not been maintained, or even updated, because it is still an important way of identifying livestock and showing proof of ownership when required,” he said.

“Thieves could quite easily take a tag out of an ear and replace it with another. It is also more difficult to tamper with an earmark or brand.”

RECKLESS ABANDONMENT: Livestock SA president Geoff Power was disappointed PIRSA had "abandoned" the historic registration of brands and earmarks in SA.

RECKLESS ABANDONMENT: Livestock SA president Geoff Power was disappointed PIRSA had "abandoned" the historic registration of brands and earmarks in SA.

Under the brands system, producers registered for a livestock brand or earmark through Biosecurity SA. The practice was not compulsory, but Mr Power said it was at least regulated.

“PIRSA said livestock producers could continue to use brands and earmarks in the absence of a regulated brands system by liaising with their neighbours about what brands they would apply,” he said. 

“They even asked Livestock SA to manage a brands system on behalf of industry. However, we are not regulators, and we can’t afford to take over the system. It’s now back on livestock producers to brand or earmark. But without being registered, I don’t think it would stand up in a court of law.” 

Mr Power said the way the repeal had been managed was also disappointing, with little farmer consultation.

“Livestock SA had a PIRSA representative attend a board meeting in March 2015 to explain the arrangement and then received advice in November that the Act would be repealed,” he said.

“We will work hard to get the government to reverse the decision.”

Mr Zacharin said Vic deregulated their brands system years ago and had not identified any resulting livestock tracing problems.

There are about 14,500 brands allocated in SA, which are mostly historical and only involve about 50 transactions a year.

The paper-based register will be archived by State Records of SA.

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