Nearly 8000 dairy farms are yet to re-register for the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, with Moving Day, June 1, just a few days away.

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said OSPRI call centre staff were grappling with "significant backlogs", and poor rural broadband was also hindering the process.

"There are also a minority of farmers and lifestyle block holders who seem unaware - or even worse, unconcerned - about their obligations. They need to up their game," he said.

OSPRI is the partnership between primary industries and the government that manages NAIT.

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Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor says the situation is not good enough.

Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Andrew Warner
Agriculture and Biosecurity Minister Damien O'Connor. Photo / Andrew Warner

"One thing the Mycoplasma bovis response has highlighted is the low levels of compliance with NAIT," O'Connor said.

"Following a recent NAIT system upgrade, every person in charge of animals must re-register their NAIT location.

"Farmers and industry have been asking MPI to increase compliance so that people who are not complying can be held to account. Last year I introduced a package of technical law changes to support the M.bovis eradication programme, as a result of that MPI increased the number of compliance staff.

"So far this year they have conducted 455 on-farm inspections. Well over half of the farms inspected were non-compliant to such an extent they have faced enforcement action. Compliance staff have served 82 Notices of Direction and issued 169 infringement notices to non-compliant farms."

Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said the Mycoplasma bovis issue highlighted why excellent levels of compliance with NAIT were needed.

"This is too important to backslide on ... All of us - farmers and OSPRI - need to pull together to get NAIT working well. In terms of eradicating M. bovis, to borrow the words of Ed Hillary, that's the way we'll 'knock the bastard off'."

O'Connor said Moving Day was part of dairy farming culture in New Zealand.

"As the new season starts, thousands of sharemilkers around the country move their cows, equipment and families to new farms.

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"The main way the disease spreads is through the movement of animals. We want some honesty in terms of tracing, so that we can track and trace every possible infected animal.

Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis. Photo / Supplied
Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson Chris Lewis. Photo / Supplied

"We need to get to a position where every single animal movement on every single farm in the country is recorded. If we'd had that system before M.bovis we wouldn't be in the position we are now.

"Farmers need to step up and take responsibility. This is not just a job for MPI – every farmer in New Zealand has to play their part. We've ramped up our compliance activities and those who don't comply will face the music.

"We're trying to stop M.bovis going through the entire national herd. We are on track to eradicate this disease and we need the support of farmers, so get on to NAIT and complete your re-registration.

"And remember – if you're moving your herd to a new property at the start of the next season, you need to register a new NAIT number. You can't take your old number with you".

Lewis said re-registration, and other aspects of NAIT compliance, were essential.

"OSPRI representatives have come along to just about every one of our 24 provincial AGMs to explain current pressures on the system, and we really thank them for that.

"If you're having technical issues with the system, or you're trying to get through on the 0800 number, we know it's frustrating. But please persevere."

For more information visit the OSPRI website.