A 73-year-old Pukekohe deer farmer has been fined $12,000 for failing to tag 278 animals under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme.
Under the system, all cattle or deer must be fitted with a NAIT tag and registered in the NAIT system by the time the animal is 180 days old, or before the animal is moved off farm.
Lester Harrison Nixon was sentenced today in the Papakura District Court on two charges under the Act, following a successful prosecution by Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). Mr Nixon has three properties registered in the NAIT database.
“NAIT tags are there to track and trace animals. They play a critical role in helping to ensure we can respond quickly and accurately in the event of a biosecurity incursion. When people in charge of animals disregard their NAIT obligations they put the whole agricultural sector at risk,” says MPI acting national manager Animal Welfare and NAIT compliance, Brendon Mikkelsen.
MPI made inquiries with Mr Nixon about outstanding animal movements on his NAIT account in 2021.
“We found Mr Nixon had made little effort to comply with the NAIT system, advising us that he does not tag his deer until just before they’re transported. He said he does not register the tags and that he had farmed for over 30 years without it (NAIT),” said Mr Mikkelsen.
During a search of one of his properties where he had NAIT animals grazing, MPI found 132 deer not fitted with a NAIT tag. At another of Mr Nixon’s properties, a further 146 deer were also not fitted with tags.
In 2019, penalties in the NAIT Act increased tenfold to $100,000 for an individual, and up to $200,000 for a body corporate.
Mr Mikkelsen says while receiving one of these penalties could hurt the bottom line for people in charge of animals, the inability to trace animals can have far reaching and serious consequences for everyone.
“The NAIT tag and registration system is only as effective as the information entered in. If you are unsure about what you need to do, reach out. There is plenty of information, advice and support available,” he said.