Over the last year or so, I’ve been watching the rapid growth of livestock selling on line. Now, on line selling is not actually a new concept. In Australia we have had AuctionsPlus that is the largest online seller of livestock in the country. AuctionsPlus was preceded by CALM – Computer Aided Livestock Marketing.
One of the great developments with the online livestock marketing has been the creation of objective terms to describe cattle and sheep. The language we use to describe fatness and muscle score was a direct outcome from the move to sell livestock objectively, and more importantly digitally.
So to me, on line marketing of livestock is a standout for the agricultural industry.
I guess I’m not the only one to be excited by the opportunities that on line selling offers. After all it’s a very inexpensive way to advertise. You can advertise with pictures as well as written descriptions. And now with the creation of Internet sites like Gum Tree, you can pretty much buy and sell anything!
At the same time, you only need to browse through Facebook to see any number of pages that range from “Buy, Sell or Swap” to specific pages selling livestock. Now, I guess that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At the end of the day, it’s a way for people to sell livestock in a manner that works best for them. It also means you might find an opportunity to purchase something you’ve been looking for.
But just because you are selling or buying through Facebook or Gum Tree, you still have to ensure you comply with the legislation that exists around livestock sales and movements.
This means you need to ensure that you comply with the NLIS requirements. So if you are buying animals, you will need to ensure that the animals are transferred on the NLIS database to your PIC. If you are selling you have to make sure the animals are tagged with an approved NLIS tag and that you also must complete a current National Vendor Declaration (NVD). Remember the NVD can be used as your Transported Stock Statement.
These points are important to remember, particularly if you are a small or new producer. However your animals are part of the industry, and so traceability is just as important regardless of buying on line from a Facebook page or through the sale yard system. And in regards to transported stock statements, the legislation means police or stock inspectors have a duty to ask for yours. So don’t get caught!
The other part of buying on line from various sites is for you to ensure you consider the risks to your business. In the first instance you need to consider the usual issues of biosecurity. So think about quarantining new livestock to minimize the spread of weeds or parasites.
I’d also think its pretty important you do your homework on just what it is that you are buying. In the Auctions Plus system, you have the assurance that an accredited assessor describes all animals. You can check their status, and if the animals don’t meet the description you can speak to Auctions Plus about the issue.
In generic sales pages, you won’t have that fall back. You really are making a choice to accept another person’s description. So if the animal isn’t what you expect, is lighter, heavier, more stirry than you expected, you have no comeback. That’s part of buyer beware and I guess it applies to any purchases we make. But it’s important that you do the risk assessment first, cover all the options and then you can at least feel you’ve done as much as you can.
I reckon on line selling in all their forms, are going to be part of how we do business into the future. So why not make the most of the opportunities. Just don’t let the convenience of looking on line become complacency or laziness! If you do your homework and make sure you meet your obligations for identification, traceability and movement restrictions, then I reckon the online world can be another tool in your business toolbox.
Earlier this week I was talking to a beef producer from the New England region about our markets. With current prices it seems everyone wants to discuss the value and opportunities of beef production! And lets face it, its exciting to see the demand and value flowing through for cattle. One of the things we talked about was the point that domestically, Australia can only consume so much red meat in any one year. The simple reality, which we both reckoned, is that sometimes, its easy to forget just how dependant we are on our overseas exports!
The Australian beef industry sends about 70% of all beef produced overseas, to over 100 countries. For other red meat producers, such as shipmate its around 97% while lamb producers have about 54% exported. For goat producers that figure is an extraordinary 95%! So maintaining the confidence of those overseas consumers and purchasers of red meat is essential for all of us!
A key component in maintaining this confidence starts wit a vendor declaration. The National Vendor Declaration (NVD) is the opportunity for you as a producer to stay some facts around your animals, and the way in which you have produced them. It also covers the important things like veterinary treatments. feeds that may have been offered and if there are any issues associated with chemical residues.
The NVD is also required for any movements of stock between properties that have different Property Identification Codes (PIC) or through saleyards or to processors.
NVDs help provide a clearer understanding of livestock and support the traceability of animals.
Completing NVDs isn't really a new concept for most producers. National Vendor Declarations have been around for a number of years. The have been updated and revised as markets and consumer expectations change.
What is changing is a requirement for all producers to now ensure that they are using the current version of the LPA NVD. All older versions of the LPA NVD are being phased out over the next two months.
And from the 16th of November 2015 all older versions will no longer be accepted by the industry. Which means no processors, feedlot, saleyards or other producers will accept them! Which is going to make marketing or moving cattle, sheep or goats pretty difficult for you if you don't get organised now!
So how can you tell if you have a current LPA NVD?
If your LPA NVD has the number 0413, it is the current version and you will be fine to continue to use the form when moving or marketing livestock. In the picture above, you will notice a C, which stands for Cattle. The Sheep & Lamb NVD has an S before the 0413 code.
So what do you do if you don't have the current LPA NVD? Well I reckon the first thing you need to do is check that you don't have it! If you are definitely using older NVD forms, then you need to get in touch with Meat & Livestock Australia and order the current forms.
If you want hard copies, which are the books you will fill out (they come in triplicate) you can order them online. They cost $40. The other option is to use an E-declaration (an electronic form). Known as E-Decs, they can be a more cost effective way of ordering forms, particularly if you prefer doing work on line.
Which ever way you choose to go is up to you. I reckon its a matter personal preference on this one. However, I also reckon you don't have time to do nothing. If you are planning on selling or moving stock after the 16th of November you need to have the LPA NVD up to date. So don't leave it until the last minute before you sort yourself out!
According to industry figures, around 70% of producers already using the current LPA NVD forms. This is largely helped by processors such as JB Swift and Teys Australia only accepting current forms. But it still leaves 30% or 3 in 10 producers who haven't updated. And that might be due to marketing only once a year or not moving stock between PICs and you haven't had to update until now.
If that is the case, or you're a small producer or hobby farmer, and you haven't worried until now, you need to make a coupe of calls and decide if hard copies or E-Decs work best for you. As soon as you decide that, get onto MLA and order the current LPA NVD.
I reckon the sooner you can do that, the less stress you'll have and most importantly you are doing your part to protect the confidence consumers have in your product.
Don't forget, if you have any questions or you's like to discuss your options to get in touch with me!
How familiar are you with your obligations to ensure animals are transported safely and appropriately? Its an interesting questions to ask producers or livestock agents. Sometimes the response I get to that question is a blank look or even a comment that its up to the truckie! In actual fact, anyone responsible for the care and management of livestock has an obligation to know the current standards and adhere to them.
Its called the chain of obligation, and it starts with the owner of the animal and ends with the final receiver of the livestock. Anyone along the way, be it the agent, truck driver, staff at the sale yard, feedlot, depot or processor is included in the chain. So its important you make yourself familiar with the current national standards.
The current Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock are the basis for a national consistent framework regarding standards and responsibilities associated with ensuring welfare of animals is maintained.
The national standards and guidelines cover alpacas; buffalo; camels, cattle, deer, emu, goats, horses, poultry, pigs, ostriches and sheep.
There are general guidelines that apply to all animals. Having read through these standards, I reckon they provide a logical progression for anyone who will be responsible for transporting animals.
The general standards include recommendations for:
Responsibilities & planning
Stock Handling competency
Transport vehicles and facilities for livestock
Pre transport selection of livestock
Loading, transporting and unloading livestock
Each of these points addresses important considerations for every person who is responsible for the animal.
This includes questions such as; are the animals fit to load? There are useful pointers for the suppliers of animals selecting animals and assembling them for transport as well as identifying the responsibilities for sac section of the chain of responsibility.
As well as these general standards, the document addresses the specific requirements for transporting animals of each species. These standards cover important issues such as loading densities; transportation of pregnant animals; suitability of vehicles for different species and tim of feed or water.
Transporting animals is something that everyone involved in agriculture will have to do at some stage to other.
Having the national standards in place means we re all working to the same standard and working to consistently achieve the best welfare standards for our animals.
I reckon its definitely essential you download a copy of the standard and become familiar with its standards and recommendations.
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