The Land journalist Samantha Townsend's article last week on sheep traceability ("Is UHF tech the future", The Land, November 16, p5) gives an insight into an organisation that has lost its way. Having Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) or its proxy, Integrity Systems Company (ISC), tell us there is no National Livestock Identification Scheme-compliant ultra high frequency (UHF) tag in Australia is breathtaking. While true, the relevant question is why? MLA is charged with addressing market failure in issues of research and development. It is the principle reason the organisation receives socialised levies. It is why it exists. Various reports have identified the market failure in UHF livestock tag research. Companies already paying their way with first generation, low frequency technology are hardly going to do research that is destined to challenge their status quo. It has been clear for a number of years the market was not going to drive UHF tech. I'd argue the first opportunity MLA had to address the potential of UHF was about 2012. A review by the Pathfinder Group, New Zealand, identified UHF as a potential game changer in animal identification. The tech has improved exponentially since then, but mysteriously has not been recognised by the International Committee for Animal Recording, the global provider of independent guidelines, standards and certification for animal identification, recording and evaluation. There is no doubt MLA would have seen the Pathfinder report. What happened next is the big question. Given the cost of traceability to levy payers, a diligent MLA would have progressed registration processes by doing the compliance work on any number of UHF options. I would argue, only senate estimates could get to the bottom of this. MLA needs to answer a lot of questions. Those could include: What were you thinking? Does this episode demonstrate systemic failure of the MLA organisation and the legislation? Do we need a review? The Labor Party has already shown its hand in a desire to re-purpose statutory industry levies to fund other policy priorities, such as the biosecurity levy. So, I wouldn't trust it not to turn a route and branch research and development corporation review into a money grab for other adventures. But the question remains, is MLA fit for purpose? Where did the decisions come from? Was governance and transparency of the process adequate? The huge cost to sheep producers of not acting on UHF, as identified in the 2021 review, demonstrates, in my view, systemic failure of MLA. It is obvious this debacle will cost the industry more than it can afford. So, is MLA broken?