Law changes support Mycoplasma bovis eradication

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 16, 2018

Biosecurity Minister Damien O‘Connor today announced a package of technical law changes to support the Mycoplasma bovis eradication programme.

The response to cattle disease M. bovis has highlighted problems in the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) that should have been fixed years ago – primarily farmers not registering animal movements and a lack of compliance activities to ensure NAIT‘s use.

Firstly, changes to the NAIT Act 2012, made under urgency in Parliament this week, will:

  • Align the NAIT Act search powers with the Search and Surveillance Act.
  • Make it clear that all animal movements must be declared to NAIT, even if the new location is not a registered NAIT location.
  • Hold to account those who fail to declare those movements to NAIT.

These changes go no further than powers that already exist under other Acts, which allow officers to lawfully obtain information where non-compliance is an issue. 

Secondly, three infringement offences have been created under the Animal Products Act 1999 related to non-compliance with certain Animal Status Declaration requirements.

Thirdly, the Government is making M. bovis a notifiable organism under the Biosecurity Act 1993, meaning people who suspect the presence of the disease in a new location must report it to MPI. Prompt reporting is necessary to eradicate the disease.

“A well-functioning NAIT is a key part of our efforts to protect our vital primary industries from pests and disease,” said O‘Connor.

“Farmers and industry have been asking MPI to increase compliance so that people who are not complying can be held to account.”

O‘Connor said that since getting the NAIT Review in April, compliance activities have been stepped up, with hundreds of on-farm checks, compliance warnings, stock truck checks and 39 infringement notices – compared with one in the previous five years.

“Today‘s legislation marks another meaningful step in bolstering NAIT. We are already implementing nearly two dozen changes that don‘t require legislative change, and will revisit NAIT legislation again in coming months after consulting on more changes, including making NAIT easier to use.

“Farmers know that the Government is here to help them in times of biosecurity threats and wants to improve a system that was left without change for too long by the previous administration,” said O‘Connor.