New Zealand Law Society - Bill to improve tracing of animals introduced

Bill to improve tracing of animals introduced

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The National Animal Identification and Tracing Amendment Bill (No 2) was introduced to Parliament on 23 July 2019. The Minister for Agriculture Damien O’Connor is in charge of the bill.

The bill amends the National Animal Identification and Tracing Act 2012 to make improvements to the framework governing the national animal identification and tracing system (NAIT), to provide accurate tracing of animals and their movements that enables biosecurity management and manages risks to human health.

Traceability systems are a key component of the broader biosecurity framework for the management of disease and food safety risks to food products resulting from the animal and plant supply chains. Livestock traceability also provide critical information to inform decision making for the wider biosecurity activities that occur when or if a disease or food safety risk is identified.

The bill addresses recommendations of the OSPRI-led NAIT Review 2016-18 and issues identified during the biosecurity response to the cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis.

The fundamental model of the NAIT system is not being changed and the persons in charge of NAIT animals (PICAs) are responsible for tagging and registering their animals and recording all off-farm movements.

To improve traceability, tags will only be able to be used at the location for which they were issued. A transition of 12 months is provided, to enable PICAs to use up existing tags (clause 22 inserting new Schedule 1AA).

The “impractical to tag” exemption has been tightened up to focus on risks to the PICA’s safety rather than inconvenience, and this exemption will be removed 5 years after the enactment of the bill (new regulation 17A).

The bill provides for the location history of an animal to be available to a purchaser and it also brings the penalty regime into line with the related penalty caps and infringement fees in the Biosecurity Act 1993 and Animal Products Act 1999.

Clause 12 inserts new section 31A and prohibits a person who moving NAIT animals unless they are fitted with a prescribed NAIT device. A person who contravenes this section commits an offence unless an exemption applies (new Schedule 2).

Clause 14 inserts new section 32A and requires PICAs to declare annually any prescribed non-NAIT animals on their property.

Clause 10 inserts new section 23A confirms that Crown owns NAIT data on behalf of all PICAs, the wider sector, industry, and the public interest.

The bill ensures that access to, and use of, NAIT data (for the purposes of the Act) is enhanced so that agencies that need it to do their jobs can get it in an efficient and effective manner.

Clause 15 amends section 40 - The purposes of holding core data to include responding to inquiries about stock theft and wandering stock. All defined public sector organisations will be able to apply to NAIT Limited for access to data. In addition, the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will be able to make decisions on access to NAIT data for MPI staff to achieve a purpose in section 40 of the Act.

To future-proof the regime, the bill provides that a function of a NAIT organisation is to ensure continuity of access to NAIT data and the information system if a new entity is designated a NAIT organisation (clause 8 inserting new section 10(2B)).

The threshold that must be met for a Minister to intervene in a NAIT organisation is made clearer, and reporting requirements are strengthened to align with normal practice for regulatory agencies. A Minister will have the ability to appoint a representative to assist the NAIT board. A Minister will also be able to set out Government priorities and expectations of a NAIT organisation, and to issue a direction to the board in relation to its statutory functions and duties (clause 7 inserting new section 9A).

The bill comes into force the day after it receives the Royal assent.