B+LNZ and OSPRI to improve sheep traceability with electronic ASDs

// Pests and Diseases

Introductions of pests and diseases onto farms can be devastating for businesses and rural communities.

COVID-19 and the response to Mycoplasma bovis has underscored the importance of tracing to find, contain and control infectious diseases.

For sheep, mob-based tracing is an efficient and effective method.  For a number of years, B+LNZ has been seeking to improve the traceability of mobs of sheep.

Current tracing of movements of sheep relies on Animal Status Declarations (ASDs). These are paper-based, which limits investigators’ ability to trace a rapidly moving disease because they must follow the ‘paper trail’.

To address this, B+LNZ via the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), in partnership with six meat companies, has invested in developing and trialling electronic ASDs (eASDs), which allow for web or phone app-based recording of movements of groups of sheep, cattle and deer between farms and meat processors. This has been very successful and popular with participating farmers and meat companies.

Over the past six months, B+LNZ has explored whether the NAIT Act is the appropriate piece of legislation to support improving tracing of mobs of sheep. Following this investigation, we believe achieving improvements to sheep traceability using the NAIT Act is unnecessarily complicated.

Cattle and deer are individually identified and their movements recorded. For sheep, this is not cost effective nor required because in New Zealand they have different disease risk profiles and are moved much less frequently than cattle.

Therefore, B+LNZ wants to increase uptake of eASDs among farmers without using the NAIT Act and has been working with OSPRI and partners DairyNZ and DINZ to integrate ASDs into a refreshed build of the NAIT electronic ASD system.

Beginning in July 2021, we expect that all farmers – cattle, deer and sheep – will be able to complete ASDs electronically (eASDs) using the NAIT interface or a phone app when moving animals between farms, saleyards and meat processing companies.

This is an exciting development because not only should it make things much easier for cattle and deer farmers who currently have to make separate NAIT and ASD movement records, but it will also improve the usefulness of sheep movement recording for biosecurity purposes.

Once well-established, eASDs also have the potential to support more robust commercial assurances to global customers about farm management practices of value to consumers. This is because eASDs make the collection of voluntarily-supplied information from farmers easier to verify and more efficient for everyone.

To support eASDs and biosecurity readiness and responses in general, B+LNZ will be asking for the incoming Government to make registering the location of livestock farms for biosecurity purposes mandatory under the Biosecurity Act (1993).

B+LNZ and our partners  are acutely aware of the importance of safeguarding farmers’ privacy and information – this is protected by law.

Knowing where livestock farms are is essential for effective biosecurity responses. For too long, New Zealand has been without a single source of the truth about these.

If you have any questions, please email Chris Houston, Senior Manager Technical Policy at B+LNZ: chris.houston@beeflambnz.com