Australia's Traceability System - Case Study
NLIS collects data on individual animals that extends across their lifetime and along the value chain from birth to slaughter. That 99.5 percent of movement transactions are received electronically within 24 hours of the movement occurring illustrates how effective the NLIS system has become in the gathering of data.
The Australian meat industry is heavily reliant on exports. While market access and risk mitigation remain the primary drivers behind the development of NLIS, the industry and business-level capabilities that have stemmed since the system’s implementation have resulted in greater operational efficiencies, competitive advantage, and market-focused innovation than could otherwise have occurred. That the NLIS continues to be developed in conjunction with value-adding initiatives such as MSA illustrates the commercial and economic opportunities that can stem from viewing traceability from a long-term strategic perspective.
The secret of NLIS’s effectiveness is that it is simple, solid, and secure. This is due to a number of factors that have been critical to both its initial development and evolution over time. They include mandating:
1. exactly why the NLIS exists and its role in ensuring the long-term competitiveness of Australia’s livestock industry, before determining what technology was required and why;
2. that traceability is a tool and an outcome, not the purpose for why NLIS exists;
3. that the management of NLIS is overseen by an independent entity (NLIS Ltd.), whose board of directors comprises representatives from industry, research, and government;
4. that actors operating along the entire value chain use the system appropriately and are accountable for uploading data to the national database in a timely and accurate fashion;
5. that the physical components of the system (e.g., ear tags and readers) are “fit for use,” tested extensively prior to their introduction, and used in a consistent manner across the country;
6. which data can be accessed by businesses, government departments, researchers, etc., and for what purpose(s);
7. that the costs of the system are borne by the entire industry through levies; and
8. that data contained on the NLIS national database system is accurate and can be analyzed to identify then find individual animals within hours of a disease outbreak occurring.
These outcomes have been achieved by having established explicit roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities that are written into a combination of federal and state level legislation and regulations.
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