Property Identification Codes boost resilience
17 January 2017
The importance of Property Identification Codes (PICs) to the resilience and safety of Victorian agriculture should not be underestimated.
Agriculture Victoria has been working with farmers and the broader agribusiness sector to emphasise how improved access to specific property information reduces biosecurity risks, helps control invasive pests or exotic diseases and ensures support services can move quickly at times of emergency.
Victoria's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne has highlighted how registering properties on the online PIC system enables all agricultural producers to be notified of biosecurity events or emerging threats in their respective region.
A PIC is a unique eight-character code allocated by Agriculture Victoria to a property owner that will enable us to swiftly alert them in the event of a plant pest infestation or disease outbreak that may impact their business.
As an example, fruit growers in the Sunraysia area can now receive a prompt notification alerting them if a fruit fly is detected within 5km of a trap located on their property.
Lake Boga stone fruit grower Mr Michael Tempini said by registering for a PIC, fruit growers will be provided with early notification warnings of any nearby Queensland fruit fly (QFF) detections.
"The effective and timely management of fruit fly on commercial properties is critical if Sunraysia is to be restored to its Pest Free Area (PFA) status," said Mr Tempini.
Mr Richard Howden, Chief Executive Officer at Yarra Valley Wine Growers Association, reaffirmed the importance of the allocated property codes to the wine industry.
"It is a grape grower's responsibility to maintain and improve biosecurity management on their property, and to ensure their business is not left exposed to the damaging effects of a devastating plant pest such as phylloxera. So registering for a PIC is a simple yet very effective way to help protect against a grape phylloxera infestation in our region," Mr Howden.
Whilst PICs are considered to be the most viable option for enabling the flow of this sort of information to growers, less than 30 per cent of Yarra Valley grape growers have currently registered for a PIC, leading Mr Howden to urge all local vineyard owners to register with Agriculture Victoria for a property code.
"Our grapevine growers of course also need to remember that the application for a PIC is a legal obligation for their industry. So if you grow half a hectare or more of grapes - make sure you have a PIC."
The introduction of mandatory electronic identification tagging for all sheep and goats born in Victoria from 1 January 2017 serves as a timely reminder to all livestock owners, managers and occupiers of land to ensure they have a PIC. This is necessary for any properties where livestock are grazing or being held, regardless of whether the livestock is moved or not.
This means all livestock businesses, such as saleyards, abattoirs and showgrounds, must also have a PIC.
Dr Milne said PICs provide traceability to specific properties, which is vital in the event of disease control, animal health or food safety concerns.
PICs are fundamental to the operation of the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), which is a core part of Federal and State Government biosecurity strategies to trace meat from paddock to plate, and to safeguard our domestic and export markets.
PICs are also important in the event of a bushfire, floods or storms so emergency services can easily identify livestock and property boundaries.
"Within a few months from now, from 1 July 2017, all saleyards, abattoirs and knackeries must commence scanning electronic tags of sheep and goats and uploading that information to the NLIS database," Dr Milne said.
"Effective identification and tracking of sheep and goats through the supply chain is vital for biosecurity, food safety and market access purposes."
Dr Milne also said it is a requirement in Victoria for owners of farm livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs, to have a PIC when trading or moving them.
Movements of cattle, sheep and goats between properties with different PICs are recorded on the NLIS database, so movements of these livestock on and off different properties and saleyards can be traced, as well as livestock movements to abattoirs.
"This is important if, for example, chemical residues are detected in some meat at an abattoir, because the property where the affected stock were last held can be identified and investigations undertaken as to why the residues occurred," Dr Milne said.
All Australian states have a PIC system to identify properties where livestock is kept.
Apply for a Property Identification Code here.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Biosecurity