20 Nov 2008

Referendum sought on animal identification scheme

7:20 pm on 20 November 2008

Federated Farmers national council wants a farmer referendum on a proposed national animal identification and tracing scheme.

The federation is leading the opposition to the scheme, which will introduce compulsory electronic ear-tagging for cattle and deer by 2011.

Its objections include: the costs for farmers having to buy ear tags and electronic scanning equipment, the prospect of the scheme being extended to include sheep and fears that the Government may use the data-base for other purposes, such as calculating a farm's green-house gas emissions.

But the scheme has strong backing from meat companies Fonterra and Meat & Wool New Zealand.

They say having a more effective animal identification scheme will be essential to market access and rapid disease response.

Discussion at Federated Farmer's meat and fibre meeting last week and its national council meeting this week has not resolved any of the issues.

National president Don Nicholson says it should be put to a vote of farmers.