New risk management tool for cattle producers

17 December 2019

Livestock producers will have an additional tool with which to manage the biosecurity or food safety risk that can come with buying and selling animals.

From 13 January 2020, an Early Warning status will be visible to all account holders within the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database, which is operated by Integrity Systems Company (ISC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

The NLIS Early Warning status identifies whether the vendor’s property has an animal on-farm that may be considered a risk to the buyer. It does not identify what the status is for or which specific animal it is assigned to.

ISC Chief Executive Officer Dr Jane Weatherley said the Property Identification Code (PIC)-based Early Warning status encourages the buyer to investigate and assess the risk before the livestock are purchased.

This option has been available to processors and feedlots using the NLIS database for some time and involves only a very small number of PICs.

“Responding to demand from across the value chain and following extensive consultation with Peak Industry Councils, from 13 January 2020 the Early Warning status will be visible to all supply chain participants, including producers, agents and saleyards,” Dr Weatherley said.

“An animal may be given a ‘status’ if it has a disease or residue issue that requires specific management on-farm or at processing. The status is registered to the NLIS tag number on the NLIS database, and is assigned by either the Commonwealth or State Department, a vet or ISC, who will also inform the producer if one of these statuses is applied.”

Some disease and residue statuses automatically trigger in the NLIS database an Early Warning status on the PIC where the animal resides, and it is this PIC-based status that will now be visible to all.

Cattle Council of Australia President, Tony Hegarty, said the Early Warning status will give buyers a heads up if the property they are buying the livestock from is carrying a high risk animal.

“Sellers of livestock should always disclose if the animals they are selling are high risk, but it is also good practice for those buying livestock to request status information from the vendor prior to purchase," Mr Hegarty said.

"Those who note an Early Warning status are encouraged to contact the vendor or agent to establish whether an affected animal is in the consignment, and if it is, determine how it will be managed."

Australian Lot Feeders' Association (ALFA) President, Bryce Camm, said the status is an important tool in protecting the industry’s reputation and market access.

“The NLIS Early Warning status further strengthens our ability to monitor and manage food safety or biosecurity risks along the entire supply chain. It provides greater transparency and is just one part of the broader integrity system which underpins access to more than 100 markets globally for Australian beef,” Mr Camm said. 

For more information including ‘How to Guides’ and FAQ’s, visit https://www.integritysystems.com.au/earlywarning

Background - Early Warning on the NLIS database:

  • An animal is given a device-based status on its NLIS tag or bolus when it has a disease or residue issue that requires specific management on-farm, or at feedlots, saleyards and processors for food safety or biosecurity reasons
  • This status is assigned by the Commonwealth or State Department, vet or the Integrity Systems Company
  • The device-based status triggers an automatic Early Warning status on the Property Identification Code (PIC) where the animal is registered

Producers can now see this Early Warning status on the NLIS database.

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