The New Zealand government has pledged $23.3 million (New Zealand dollars) to create a system of mandatory RFID-tagging for all of the country’s farm-raised cattle and deer by 2011. The funding for the biosecurity project will cover its set-up costs, with a new tax likely to be levied to support operational costs.
Under the proposed National Animal Identification and Tracing project, each farm animal will be assigned a unique code that will be stored in a database alongside details such as the age, sex and breed of the animal, its owner, its herd of origin and the identification number of the property on which it is located. The project would also create FarmsOnLine, an online database that will store up-to-date electronic maps of farms along with their contact and stock details.
The system will assist in tracking animals in the event of disease outbreak, but could also be used by farmers to improve farm management, and by retailers to provide consumers with more information about meat’s origin.
The mandatory nature of the system will require new legislation to put it into permanent effect, but officials believe they can get the system up and running before such legislation is passed. Trials of RFID tags are under way at a dozen farms in New Zealand.