20 February 2006 CIRCULAR TO NSW CATTLE PROCESSORS The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) in NSW reached its final phase on 1 January this year with the introduction of requirements for recording property to property movements. In general the industry response to NLIS has been very positive. The majority of producers are now applying NLIS devices to cattle when they leave properties for movement, sale or slaughter. The saleyard are reading devices and recording Property Identification Codes (PICs) from vendors and purchasers. Most processors are reporting PICs, NLIS details and weights from slaughter stock to the NLIS database. The Rural Lands Protection Boards, NSW DPI, AQIS and the NSW Food Authority are following up instances of non-compliance. The next step in the NLIS process will be removing the requirement for tail tags for the majority of cattle traded with an increasing reliance on the NLIS device to provide traceability. ‘Tail tag free’ trading for store and slaughter cattle is expected to be introduced throughout Victoria and Queensland on Monday 3 April 2006. South Australia has been tail tag free for the past 12 months. NSW anticipates removing the general requirement for tail tags on 1 July 2006. The different starting dates for tail tag free trading may pose some challenges for NSW processors. The attached Question and Answer sheet will hopefully assist in enabling NSW processors to meet their obligations under NLIS and the Extended Residue Program (ERP) in a tail tag free environment. If you require further information on the operation of the NLIS in NSW, or assistance in preparing for tail tag free operation please call Michael Beer on 02 6391 3376 Yours sincerely BD BUFFIER DIRECTOR GENERAL Question and Answers for Processors in a Tail Tag Free environment What are current NLIS requirements for processors? Under the Stock Diseases Regulation (2004) abattoirs are required to: • receive and record PIC of property of origin. • scan RFID devices on all cattle slaughtered • weigh all carcases • upload RFIDs, PICs, slaughter date and carcase weights to the NLIS database • complete these uploads by close of business next working day after slaughter. Penalties apply for failure to meet these legislative requirements. In a tail tag free environment processors will also need to demonstrate that they have processes in place to enable them to meet their ERP obligations. Will I be able to process interstate cattle without tail tags in the period before NSW has declared tail tag freedom? To process tail tag free interstate cattle during the period between 3 April and 1 July NSW abattoirs will need to demonstrate that they have systems in place to meet their NLIS and Extended Residue Program (ERP) obligations. Cattle from Vic and QLD consigned for sale or slaughter without tail tags, MUST be; • identified with an NLIS Device at the time they are dispatched by the vendor, and • accompanied by a correctly completed National Vendor Declaration (NVD) form or waybill. Cattle without tail tags will be permitted to enter NSW for further grazing provided that they also meet these conditions. Several NSW sale yards are currently running tail tag free store cattle sales. How do I determine ERP status of PICs and cattle without tail tags? Most abattoirs are progressively installing an upgraded version of a software package known as MLA EasyCheck to manage ‘tail tag free’ processing. Provided the NLIS Device on an animal scheduled to be slaughtered is on the processor’s ‘current holdings’, this software can automatically display the following information: Vendor's PIC, Any disease or residue status information applying to that PIC or the individual NLIS device, The saleyard that transferred the animal to the processor and, The relevant NVD serial number. For this to happen saleyards will need to complete a ‘take possession’ file of slaughter cattle on the database before the cattle leave the saleyard or soon thereafter. This ensures that the cattle are on the processor’s ‘current holdings’ on the database when the cattle are presented for slaughter. Please brief your buyers on the importance of this occurring. It is assumed that Victoria and QLD will have this in place before going tail tag free. This will also be a requirement in NSW after 1 July 2006. NSW processors who believe they can demonstrate the above capacity should contact AQIS or the NSW Food Authority for approval to slaughter cattle under tail tag free conditions. This will be an interim approval until all processors are ready for tail tag free operation on 1 July. If you have questions about MLA Easycheck, please contact Peter Quigley (MLA) on 0408 015 450. Abattoir software providers such as Sastek and Thorsys and Triton are familiar with the operation of MLA Easycheck and can advise on its suitability for your plant. AQIS and the NSW Food Authority have been notified of the planned introduction of tail tag free trading. How do I handle direct consignment cattle? Vendor cattle will need to be read and processors will need to complete a property to property transfer using the vendor and abattoir PICs to transfer the cattle to processors current holdings file. An ERP exception report can then be conducted to ensure no individual tag statuses exist. Are there any ongoing tagging requirements? Special identifiers It is an offence under legislation to sell cattle that do not carry a functioning NLIS Device unless the agent/operator ensures that the cattle are tagged before they leave the saleyard with either: • an NLIS Post-breeder Tag issued for use at the saleyards/scales (from the RLPB), or • a blue or orange tail tag allocated to the agent or saleyard by the RLPB. Tail tags for ERP statuses Consideration is being given to continuing with tail tagging for cattle from properties that carry an ERP status under the National Organochlorine Residue Minimisation (NORM) program for a further 6 to 12 months after NSW commences ‘tail tag free’ trading. This may be done if processors need more time to fully develop their NLIS bases systems to identify test animals. While this may assist processors to identify some of the cattle that need to be tested, other ERP statuses, including a number that are individually tag based, may not be apparent to the producer and hence the affected animals or lots may not carry tail tags. If test animals are identified in a consignment, processors will need to take steps to ensure they can identify affected cattle and take appropriate steps. This may involve reading NLIS devices in lairage to identifying cattle with an ERP status or receiving full buyer reconciliation reports from the saleyard before cattle are slaughtered. The product integrity benefits offered by the NLIS will only be realised when all processors implement can procedures that ensure that ALL ERP statuses are captured before determining requirements for carcase testing, inspection and disposition. EU cattle AQIS have a requirement that all EU cattle continue to be identified with a lime green tail tag. NFAS Cattle National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) – AusMeat accredited lot feeders can voluntarily continue to use the purple NFAS feedlot tail tag. What are the changes to National Organochlorine Residue Management (NORM) statuses? A new system for classifying organochlorine affected properties has been implemented nationally. The new classifications under the NORM program are T1F, T2F and T3F where testing will continue to be industry funded, and T1V, T2V, T3V and T4 where testing will occur under ‘commercial arrangements’. There are also several ERP statuses that are based on an individual NLIS device rather than a PIC. These include RAM statuses where cattle may have had access to Restricted Animal Material and IMP1 status for stock imported from possible BSE countries. Both status types are checked against ERP tables when using the EasyCheck program. An AQIS Meat Notice has recently been issued with further information on this matter. Forthcoming Audits Australia’s freedom assurance arrangements for BSE will be audited during this year. A European Union audit is expected shortly with Japan and Korea reviewing Australia’s BSE measures later in the year. It is expected that a comprehensive review would include both export and domestic plants. Actions taken by any abattoirs in response to IMP1 and RAM statuses are key elements of Australia's freedom assurance arrangements for BSE. Any failure by abattoirs to identify individual NLIS device statuses prior to determining carcase disposition could be viewed as a serious defect in Australia's BSE freedom assurance program. It could also expose processors to the risk of potentially costly product recalls if animals were inappropriately processed before their status was identified.