In 1996, Australia's State and Territory Agriculture/Primary Industries Ministers, on the recommendation of a government/industry working party, agreed to develop what became known as the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). The objective was to enhance identification arrangements in place at the time by permanently identified cattle on their property of birth with an ear tag or rumen bolus that could be read quickly and accurately.
A key driver for the full implementation of the NLIS throughout Australia is concern about the adequacy of current arrangements for the identification and tracing of cattle in the event of a major exotic disease outbreak such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). A recent Commonwealth government study estimated the overall economic loss as a result of an FMD outbreak to be between $2 billion and $13 billion. Though the NLIS will not prevent a disease outbreak, it will be able to reduce the financial and social impact of a disease epidemic due to its accurate identification and rapid traceability capabilities.
Because of the development and introduction of `whole of life' identification and tracking systems in major cattle producing and/or beef consuming countries such as Canada, United States, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Brazil, Uruguay and Botswana in addition to European Union (EU) countries, the Australian cattle industry anticipates that it will need to have an equivalent system in operation in order to maintain access to, and remain competitive in, key overseas and domestic markets.
NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee
In August 2001, the then Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Keith Hamilton, formed the NLIS Implementation Advisory Committee. All major Victorian cattle industry organisations are represented on this Committee. The Advisory Committee developed the timetable for the full implementation of the NLIS in Victoria, including recommendations in relation to mandatory tagging, and has an ongoing advisory role.
Victoria has one of the world's best environments for the production of natural, wholesome food. The State's beef and dairy cattle are typically raised in a healthy outdoor environment on high quality pasture. Now, Victoria has enhanced its outstanding reputation as a supplier of wholesome beef and dairy products by fully implementing the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). The NLIS is Australia's system for the electronic identification and tracking of cattle. All the way from birth to slaughter.
The NLIS involves the permanent identification of cattle. It commences on their property of birth through the use of an ear tag containing a microchip encoded with a unique, unalterable number. Details about cattle identified with NLIS tags, including ownership changes and information that may affect their suitability for human consumption, are recorded on a national database managed by NLIS Ltd. Through the NLIS, cattle can be accurately tracked 'from paddock to plate'. Importantly, any suspect animals can be quickly located and detained.
The NLIS is more reliable than alternative cattle identification systems because data is captured electronically and transmitted quickly and accurately via the Internet.
Victoria is leading the world in the implementation of this best-practice system.
With the support of the Victorian Government, the cattle industry will fully implement the NLIS by 2005 commencing with the requirement that cattle born from 1 January 2002 onwards be identified with an NLIS tag before leaving their property of birth.
Food safety and product integrity are expected to become non-negotiable requirements for food commodities in all Australian domestic and export markets.
Victoria's beef and dairy industries, in partnership with the Victorian Government, are committed to meeting the requirements of our most demanding customers. For food that is clean, fresh and safe.