DairyNZ supports the Government's decision to pass amendments on the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) Act under Urgency this week, says chief executive Tim Mackle.

The Government introduced the NAIT Amendment Bill last Thursday, and passed it under Urgency today. The Bill makes changes to the Act which will allow for warrantless inspections of farms, clarifies animal movement requirements, and makes it an offence not to record animal movements.

"It's become clear over the past year, as we deal with the fall out of Mycoplasma Bovis, that some farmers haven't been taking the requirements to record animal movements through NAIT as seriously as they should have been," says Dr Mackle.

"We've always encouraged farmers to ensure they complete NAIT records, and the failure to do so has caused significant problems for the sector since M. bovis was first discovered in New Zealand last year. Legislated changes to the Act were clearly necessary.

"M. bovis has proven just how difficult a disease like this can be for a herd, for the farming community, and for the wider economy.

"We support the Government's decision to ensure the legislation is fit for purpose. Knowing where your cows have been, is crucial to understanding and preventing the spread of any future disease."

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, he said in a statement.

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

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• 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.

The statement added: "We have created three infringement offences under the Animal Products Act 1999 related to non-compliance with certain Animal Status Declaration requirements."

M.bovis is being made 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.

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

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

"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."