Friday, June 06, 2008

NEW ZEALAND NEWS: RFID Tags for All Farmed Deer By 2011

Can the U.S. be far behind? Sadly, yes.

New Zealand's Stuff has reported that by 2011 all cattle and deer on the island nation of four million people are likely to be RFID tagged. The initiative is part of a multimillion dollar allocation by the New Zealand government to strengthen biosecurity protections.

While there are already a dozen RFID trials underway at farms around the country, there is as yet no centralized, national database to track tagged animals. This according to Ian Corney, chair of the National Animal Identification and Tracing project and a farmer himself. Clearly such a database is necessary for livestock tracking to be effective. "What it means, now, is the traceability database can get built and we can get on with the job," Corney was quoted in reference to the new government funding.

Corney indicated that the tagging will be essentially mandatory but that there will not be new legislation for it. "There are several mechanisms that can be worked around," he said.

The total biosecurity allocation is NZ$23.3 million, or roughly US$19 million. The money for the animal tagging will be a subset of that. In addition to containing the outbreak of disease, predicted benefits from the RFID system include improved livestock management for farmers, as well as the ability to present consumers with more information about where their meat comes from.

Cattle are slated to be tagged first, with deer to follow. Depending on the success of the system, other animals could be tagged after that, including sheep (no small feat given the nation's claim that sheep outnumber people ten-to-one).


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