Risks rise of banks getting access to NAIT-type data when stock is sold at saleyards or to processors; Aussie farmers furious at proposal

Risks rise of banks getting access to NAIT-type data when stock is sold at saleyards or to processors; Aussie farmers furious at proposal
Will banks automatically get notified when you sell?

Animal tagging is now ubiquitous, and virtually mandatory in New Zealand for beef and deer under the NAIT system.

There is a strong push to extend it to sheep.

It was introduced in New Zealand as a way to monitor animal disease, especially TB, part of a full trace-and-track system.

New Zealand's systems allow tracing of the provenance of almost all meat offered to consumers using EID / NAIT technologies.

It is growing in sophistication.

FarmIQ for example is working to a seven-year programme and progressing six distinct projects (Governance, Market, Database, Genetics, Processing, Farm productivity) - each one adding value to the supply chain. This is an MPI-backed and funded scheme under the PGP program.

The potential for gains begins before livestock are born - by having the right genetics matched with the right on-farm systems. Then capturing information through EID (Electronic Identification) and using processing technology to feed this back to the producer. Finally and critically, it involves matching products to markets.

But there is suddenly a looming downside that may undermine the trust being built up through these programs.

Banks are showing real interest in getting access to this information.

The fault line has opened in Australia.

Reports there say farmers there are outraged at proposals by Meat and Livestock Australia to covertly sell to banks and other rural lending institutions private information.

A consultant's report commissioned by the MLA - and leaked to the Australian Beef Association - says 10 financial institutions are keen to pay to automatically receive emails informing them every time a farmer who has a mortgage or debt sells his stock through the saleyards or to a meat processor.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Farms For Sale: the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing of working farms in New Zealand, here »
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The scheme, which the ABA likens to "spying for profit", is made possible by the tracking of electronic eartags, which are now mandatory from birth for all cattle in all states, from farm to meatworks, under a scheme administered by the MLA.

ABA director Brad Bellinger said yesterday farmers were furious and alarmed that the meat authority they fund through producer levies was considering using the hi-tech, eartag-based National Livestock Identification System - supposedly introduced to minimise disease spread and maximise trade opportunities - to pass on their private financial transactions to banks.

...

"I can't believe they would even consider passing information from these ID tags about stock movements and sales in to banks," Mr Shovelton said.

"That would seem a complete breach of privacy . . . to do that without (the farmer's) permission. It would be interesting to know who that information actually belongs to."

MLA spokeswoman Belinda Roseby said the concept of sending information from eartags to third parties remained a proposal under consideration and had not yet been activated.

She said automatic emails would only ever be sent to banks or financial institutions informing them of stock sales, if the producer had first given permission.

Mr Shovelton uses the tags - which can relay and collate information about sheep weight, wool quality and lambing ability on a farm back to a computer - along with an electronic reader and automatic drafting gate to select the best sheep to keep and mate.

"It's not that expensive or that difficult to do; it's labour saving, and the productivity benefits are really there," he said from his Creighton Creek farm in northeast Victoria.

Local farmers have long struggled with the additional costs of mandatorily fitting of all 70 million sheep and 28 million cattle in Australia with the electronic identification tags, estimated at $50m a year for cattle producers now, and between $25m and $45m for sheep.

The ABA's Mr Bellinger said sheep and woolgrowers should be doubly wary after the revelation that their private financial information about stock sold from their farms could be passed on, possibly to Centrelink and the Australian Taxation Office.

He believes the banks want to know every time a farmer who holds a debt or overdraft with an institution sells stock so they can claim first creditor rights to the income ahead of other rural suppliers, such as stock agents like Elders, with whom the farmer might have an account in the red after purchasing stock feed, chemicals and fertiliser.

"This is an outrageous breach of trust by the MLA," Mr Bellinger said, who likened the plans to "Big Brother" electronic surveillance.

"MLA's deployment of this spying system - which for all we know could already be happening - for their own profit is little more than commercial treachery; its secrecy and deceitfulness in this matter is shameful.”

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

7 Comments

Comment Filter

Highlight new comments in the last hr(s).

Its an out of control government department that we never needed in the first palce. Bureaucracy gone mad.
 Its an unnecessary cost, that's inefficient and complicated. Shoot it.

If you can't see the benefit of NAIT for traceability and market assurance then I pity you Andrew. Disgraceful attitude.
 
Re. the banks - I don't think they will get unsolicited access over here due to the Privacy Act but they will certainly make it a condition of any future lending that has a SSA/GSA attached to it. A sensible move that wil give banks surety about the asset where previously they had none.

ITYS, aside from the possibility of NAIT being useful for management of TB or disease incursion, could you please expand upon purported benefits regarding traceability and market assurance? Will it enable us to command premiums for our commodities, or is it just a line fed by bureaucrats to a gullible audience?

No I cannot see any benefit, looked into it  when it was being set up and couldn't see any advantage, still cannot.
  A good example is Brazil, zero tracability, Foot and mouth in pockets all over the place, no checking on vacination, with many farmers leaving it in the fridge. Go to the Uk and there is Brazilian beef everywhere. Meanwhile UK farmers live in fear of another F&M outbreak. I went into a UK supermarket and  frozen legs of lamb were all a mix of Argentina and NZ product, make your choice.
 It makes no difference to me, I know where my beef came from I know where its going, what do tags do?
 If you want tags then I think you should be allowed that option, I just don't think you should force me to.

You are absolutely right AJ. I spend a bit of time in England and confirm what you say - that produce is also cheaper than in NZ . "Traceability" is an urban myth invented by neurotics and crooked polies who plan to gouge ye for tax: parasitic bankers will climb on board for the ride, that's the new NZ business model at work.  Still can't believe that FF went for it!
I say Shoot It too.  Ergophobia

 

" Still can't believe that FF went for it!"

 

Sadly I can. In the same way they have swallowed many a line of BS over the years. Free trade, GM, TAF, to name a few.

 It makes no difference to me, I know where my beef came from I know where its going, what do tags do?
 
They give a cover of respectability to those with criminal intent. The horse meat fun and games in Europe shows these systems actually make it easier to steal and defraud.