Saturday, 01 September 2018 08:55

Mixed reaction to NAIT changes

Written by  Peter Burke
Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor.

Recent changes to the NAIT regulations have generally been welcomed by the farming industry: DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ are in favour, although Federated Farmers sees them as rushed.

The technical law changes are to support the current work to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. But the NAIT problems should have been fixed years ago, he says.

The problems arose from farmers not registering animal movements and slack enforcement of farmer compliance in using NAIT.

The changes passed under urgency in parliament align the NAIT Act search powers with the Search and Surveillance Act. They make it clear that all animal movements must be declared to NAIT, even if the new location is not registered with NAIT; and they will allow a move against any animal owner who fails to declare those movements to NAIT.

O’Connor says the changes go no further than the powers that already exist under other acts, which allow government officers to lawfully obtain information where non-compliance is an issue. 

The new regulations also make M.bovis a notifiable organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, requiring that people who suspect the presence of the disease in a new location must report it to MPI.

“Prompt reporting is necessary to eradicate the disease and a well-functioning NAIT is a key part of our efforts to protect our vital primary industries from pests and disease,” O’Connor said. 

“Farmers and industry have been asking MPI to increase compliance so that people who are not complying can be held to account.”

DairyNZ says it supports the Government’s decision to make the changes under urgency. 

Chief executive Tim Mackle says the changes will allow for warrantless inspections of farms, clarify animal movement requirements and make it an offence not to record animal movements. 

“It’s become clear over the past year, as we deal with the fallout from M.bovis, that some farmers haven’t been taking the requirements to record animal movements through NAIT as seriously as they should have been. 

“We’ve always encouraged farmers to ensure they complete NAIT records, and the failure to do so has caused significant problems for the sector since M.bovis was discovered in New Zealand last year.”

Mackle says the changes to the Act were clearly necessary.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) welcomes the Government’s passing of amendments today to improve the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act.

Dave Harrison, B+LNZ’s General Manager Policy and Advocacy, said: “Mycoplasma bovis has demonstrated that it is critical to be able to trace movements of animals between farms in the event of a biosecurity incursion and effective compliance forms an important part of that process.

“The amendments today represent a good first step towards improving the NAIT system and provide greater clarity about enforcement.

“Those farmers who work hard to comply with NAIT requirements have increasingly been asking for stronger penalties and compliance actions against those who put the industry at risk and this will give them confidence that some action is being taken.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand looks forward to working with the Government on further improvements to NAIT to ensure it meets New Zealand’s biosecurity interests and the needs of farmers.”

BLNZ says M.bovis shows it is critical to be able to trace movements of animals between farms in the event of a biosecurity incursion and effective compliance is the key to that.

Dave Harrison, BLNZ’s general manager policy and advocacy, says the farmers who work hard to comply with NAIT rules have called for stronger penalties and compliance actions against people who put the industry at risk; they are confident in the latest moves.


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