N.A.I.T. a positive step for New Zealand

by Bryan Salvage
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WELLINGTON, N.Z. — Both bodies representing New Zealand’s meat industry welcomed the announcement made by David Carter, Minister of Agriculture, that the government has committed to the next phase of the National Animal Identification and Traceability (N.A.I.T.) project for cattle and deer.

The N.A.I.T. project has had a long incubation, said Mike Petersen, Meat & Wool New Zealand chairman. “However, we are now at the stage where we can finally move ahead with some certainty to implement what will be a cost effective and robust cattle traceability system to ensure we can continue to access world markets,” he said.

Meat & Wool New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association have worked together to represent farmer and industry interests and said moving forward with N.A.I.T. will help maintain the confidence of the country’s meat products in export markets.

“A robust system will require the support of government for legislative reasons, and the commitment by the government to support the funding of N.A.I.T. recognizes that there are national benefits to N.A.I.T. proceeding,” Mr. Petersen said.

One priority for both organizations had been to ensure the traceability system was affordable for farmers and the wider industry, and the cost-benefit analysis presented in the business case showed the benefits far outweighed the costs.

“Most of the major beef-trading nations around the world already have animal I.D. systems in place and if we don’t keep up, our trade might be compromised,” Mr. Petersen said. “This has been a compelling driver for us, but so, too, has been making sure we get a system in place that farmers can afford.”

Safeguarding the information collected as part of N.A.I.T. has been another issue for both organizations, and strict rules are envisaged to protect the access to and use of N.A.I.T. data.

Bill Falconer, Meat Industry Association chairman, congratulated the tenacity of N.A.I.T. chairman Ian Corney, who had worked for a traceability system that was able to safeguard the disease-free status of New Zealand’s meat products, as well as improve the country’s capability to respond to any possible animal disease outbreaks in the future.
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