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Livestock compliance audit at Cooma cattle sale a success

LLS staff scanning cattle at the Cooma saleyards

A joint operation involving NSW Police Rural Crime Investigators and Local Land Services Biosecurity staff was undertaken at the Cooma Saleyard recently. The purpose of the operation was to audit compliance with National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) requirements in cattle brought in for sale.

Cattle were checked to ensure that NLIS ear tags were present in all animals and National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) were examined for accuracy and completeness. The operation was initiated as a result of recent breaches of the NLIS system having been identified by both agencies.

NLIS compliance is especially important in the case of an exotic disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), where effective tracing of livestock can reduce the impact of such a disease, or in a food safety or chemical residue incident.

“We know that foot-and-mouth disease comes into Australia in illegally imported meat products and we need to work together to maintain the systems that can help with containment” said Dr Petrea Wait, District Veterinarian for Local Land Services on the Monaro.

“We have learned the lessons from the UK outbreaks and implemented a traceability system to help protect our livestock and industries.

“But the system is only as good as the people who use it. It only takes a few minutes to check that your stock is tagged and your vendor declarations are completed correctly.

“A few simple checks could make the difference between a devastating event with months of anguish or a rapid disease response and containment.”

In 2001 the United Kingdom suffered through a devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease which resulted in the culling of millions of animals and the loss of billions of pounds to the UK economy. It took nine months to bring the disease under control as it was impossible to rapidly trace the movements of infected animals, and thousands of unaffected stock were killed to halt its spread.

Following this outbreak, the UK implemented identification and tracing systems for livestock which proved to be so successful that when another foot-and-mouth disease outbreak occurred in 2007 it was contained within days of identification, limiting infection to only four farms and eradication was achieved in just over a month.

Prior to the Cooma saleyard operation, all of the local livestock agents were provided with a summary of NLIS requirements that they were encouraged to send on to their clients. In addition, biosecurity and rural crime staff from both agencies increased their presence at the preceding cattle and sheep sales. Despite this, some breaches of the NLIS requirements were still identified during the operation.

“Overall, compliance was good but there were a number of cattle missing their NLIS devices.” said Ned Doubleday, Rural Crime Investigator with NSW Police

“Most of these were cattle that had been tagged and then lost the device, but some had never been tagged.”

It’s an offence to transport, sell or purchase cattle or sheep that are not properly identified with a NLIS tag. Always check your stock before you load them and if you are not able to safely tag the stock before they are transported you need to obtain a permit from Local Land Services to move them without tags.

The NLIS system is a key component in protecting Australia’s livestock industries. In 2017, Australia’s livestock industry was worth $65 billion including a $13 billion export market. To protect this industry effective identification and tracing systems are needed to provide whole-of-life traceability to maintain consumer confidence in the safety and integrity of meat, and to underpin Australia’s domestic and international trade in livestock and livestock products.

If you need any more information about identification of livestock or the traceability system please call South East Local Land Services in Cooma on 6452 1455 or see our website at https://southeast.lls.nsw.gov.au/

ENDS

Media contact: Dave Michael, South East Local Land Services, 0418 513 880