Legislation to set up the legal framework for the much-debated national animal identification and tracing system (NAIT) passed its first reading in Parliament with unanimous support.
The livestock tracing bill will pave the way for a nation-wide scheme which due to begin with cattle late next year and to be used on deer the year after.
Biosecurity Minister David Carter says the NAIT scheme will protect farmers in the international marketplace and strengthen the country's biosecurity system.
Animals will be tagged with radio frequency identification devices, farmers and their location will be registered, and stock movements reported.
The scheme is designed to limit the trade impact of a disease outbreak by allowing stock to be traced back to their home farms, but some farmers are concerned about the compliance costs involved.
NAIT chief executive Russell Burnard says the system is on track to be implemented late next year.
He says the system is likely to be based on the livestock identification system that's been in place in Australia since 2005.
The bill has been referred to the Primary Production Select Committee.