Over the passed few weeks we have watched myths and madness prevail in much of the discussion around Victoria's decision to go mandatory with an electronic ID system.
I am all for open conversation on the topic, but what becomes frustrating is the inaccuracies conveyed by those having the most to say. So let's have open conversation, but let's make sure it is accurate and well informed, and not simply hearsay or even worse, scaremongering.
We are still awaiting announcements around official business rules for the introduction of the system, but expect them sometime in the coming weeks given that the consultation period is now over. So in the meantime, as an independent member of the sheep industry with experience in the technology, the following are a few points of clarification relating to the proposed introduction of EID in Victoria.
MYTH - "Farmers won't be able to deal with the technology, and will need to buy too much equipment"
They don't need to. The only change for a Victorian farmer will be that they need to apply a different tag at lamb marking. Unless they want to use the technology for themselves on-farm, there will be absolutely no requirement to do anything different other than apply the EID tag.
MYTH - "inherent risks in the proposed system and the potential damage to national traceability and market access are too serious to be ignored”.
Current System - Nationally the traceability system requires sheep to carry a tag printed with a PIC number. Sheep coming into Victoria are required to carry this tag. Sheep going out of Victoria are required to carry this tag.
New EID System - will require sheep coming into Victoria to carry a tag with a PIC number printed on it, and sheep within Victoria and those leaving Victoria will require an Electronic Tag which also has a PIC number printed on it. The difference between Victoria and other states will simply be that automated electronic recording systems will also capture electronic information in Victorian saleyards, abbattoirs and property to property sales.
This is in no way damaging the existing systems, it is enhancing them.
MYTH - "Victoria should have waited for a national approach"
This would absolutely have been the best outcome. I don't think you would find a single person that would disagree with this. But we don't live in Disneyland, and sometimes the fairy tale outcome is simply that, a fairy tale. I genuinely believe that if the industry waited for a national approach, it wouldn't happen in my lifetime (and I intend to live for a while yet!) unless there was a serious disease or market access issue which drove an instantaneous response. Should an entire industry travel at the pace of the slowest participant?
MYTH - "We don't need it"
Are you kidding? I am interested to know how many of the people making this claim genuinely understand the need for a robust traceability system. If as an industry we want to continue to enjoy the high prices we have experienced over the last few years, then we need to do all we can to protect our status, and promote the reliability of our systems. Not wait for the proverbial to hit the fan at some stage, and then decide our current systems aren't robust enough to provide the rapid response desired.
MYTH - "Mob based is fine"