13 August 1999

Voluntary sheep tag call from MLC

THE Meat and Livestock Commission is urging farmers to begin voluntary sheep tagging to meet demands from overseas buyers for better traceability.

The export market takes 825,000 sheep and 100,000t of sheepmeat a year, according to MLC figures.

Archie Sains, MLC industry development manager, said the export market was, therefore, vital and must be maintained.

"Many foreign buyers have already expressed a desire to see greater identification and traceability so we must accede to their requests. That is why we are urging farmers to begin a voluntary tagging system now," said Mr Sains.

An MLC advisory note suggested that tags be applied before the sheep leave the farm of birth.

NFU livestock adviser Carol Lloyd added that MAFF had agreed that, when legislation on sheep tagging is introduced, animals tagged under the voluntary arrangements will not need to be retagged.