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, Federated Farmers says.
OSPRI is 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 but in 2014 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,” Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham says.
“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.”
Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Wayne Langford questions whether the current planned investment goes far enough.
“It is the act of tagging, registering and complying with NAIT that is an issue for farmers as well as the actual interface itself,” Wayne says.
The NAIT Board is two years into a five-year programme to replace the NAIT database, provide more regional and call centre support and generally make the system more reliable and easier to use.
“They’ve eaten up accumulated reserves to fund the program and to continue the upgrade programme, they need more revenue,” Williams says. “It’s pertinent to note the 35% Crown contribution is also proposed to increase from the current $2.14 million to $5.54 million.”
Bottom lines for Federated Farmers 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.
“We can’t stumble on with a flawed platform and farmers being fined when sometimes non-compliance is because of lack of support to help them make sense of a poor-performing system.”
“Federated Farmers also wants to see improved measures for transparency around transactions in NAIT animals, and new stock agent standards governing behaviour, retained as priorities,” William says.