Chris Lewis, a Feds national board member and spokesman on immigration and labour issues for the past two years, will leave at its annual meeting in Auckland early July.
The NAIT Board is two years into a five-year programme to replace its database, provide more regional and call centre support and make the system more reliable and easier to use.
“Nobody welcomes extra costs but if OSPRI is to catch-up on under investment in the NAIT platform and deliver on its workability and farmer support, levy increases are probably necessary,” Feds meat and wool chair William Beetham says.
OSPRI is currently consulting on proposals to increase the NAIT tag levy from 90 cents to $1.35 and the slaughter levy from 50 cents to $1.77. The initial levies in 2012 were $1.10 and $1.35 respectively. In 2014, the levies were dropped to the current lower figures and haven’t been reviewed since.
“It is frustrating for farmers to see levies take big jumps due to historical underinvestment in industry assets such as NAIT. It would be far better to have appropriate, well-planned investment with gradual increases in levies rather than big increases to fix problems,” Beetham adds.
“But now, if we’re to achieve a user-friendly system that delivers biosecurity critical to the sustainability of our industry, we’ll need to get the revenue in place and hold OSPRI to account to deliver a system that empowers farmers, not frustrates them.”
Beetham says the bottom lines for Fed are that the drive for an accurate, up-to-date and reliable animal tracing system should provide direct benefits to farmers, particularly as regards ease of use and practicality.