21 February 2024.

The Queensland government has dealt a significant blow to the State’s sheep and goat industry today, announcing a funding package for mandatory electronic identification (EID) that does little to support producers.

In combination with a miniscule financial contribution from the Federal government, Queensland’s sheep and goat producers are set to receive no more than $1,600 per enterprise to help adjust to this new compulsory regime.

AgForce Sheep, Wool and Goats President Stephen Tully said this is simply not enough to support producers through such a massive change, and while the industry does not oppose the move to a mandatory EID system, a fairer cost sharing arrangement is desperately needed.

“AgForce has lobbied strongly for an equitable cost sharing arrangement between governments and industry to support grass-roots producers, those family-based farming operations that will bear the brunt of the costs,” Mr Tully said.

AgForce, along-side industry’s peak bodies, supported recommendations sent to the National Biosecurity Committee to improve traceability and enhance biosecurity, which sought a new, robust National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database capable of meeting the complete needs of Australia’s livestock industries; a set of NLIS business rules to harmonise all States and Territory’s movements of livestock; and an equitable and sustainable cost-sharing arrangement.

“The only policy that is heading in the right direction to meet industry’s needs, is the work toward a new NLIS database,” Mr Tully said. “It’s a complete debacle. The concerns with national processes that have been followed to date are so significant that WoolProducers Australia publicly withdrew its support for the mandatory roll-out.”

AgForce Sheep, Wool and Goats fully support the stance taken by WoolProducers Australia and call on other industry groups to also speak out to voice their frustrations.

Jurisdictional discussions on the NLIS Business Rules, which did not include the state farming organisations, has highlighted how different the needs across the country are. This needs to be harmonised for the transition to be successful.

Mr Tully said the industry needs these discussions to start again, with direct involvement from grass-roots producers to ensure the new regime is fit for purpose.

Similarly, at the State level, the Queensland Traceability Advisory Group (QTAG) has failed its membership with poor governance.

“Any increase in government funding is a positive step, but when ministerial advisory groups are advised of increases to funding packages via media release, rather than in-advance around the table of a group meeting, the point of coordinating such advisory groups must be called into question,” he said.

“QTAG members were not even given the chance to discuss how additional funding should be allocated.”

The Queensland government’s funding announcement effectively snubs Queensland’s hard-working sheep and goat producers, placing at risk tens of millions of dollars that has been invested into exclusion fencing to protect Queensland’s small livestock from wild dogs.

“The thousands of kilometres of exclusion fencing that has gone up through-out Queensland was to protect our sheep, and encourage industry growth. Electronic tag costs, being an additional cost to operate our sheep businesses, risks our ability to maintain profitable sheep enterprises,” Mr Tully said. “I would hate to think that in the future, exclusion fencing did not benefit the sheep producer.”

Industry can only hope that there will be a further funding announcement made later in the year in the State Budget. Until then, the Queensland Government will roll out its implementation plan for EID, without industry support.    


For media comments contact: 

AgForce General Manager Policy – Michael Allpass 0427 250 045