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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2015
YEARBOOK2015 CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA 55 Why biosecurity needs to be embedded in the livestock business Until a few years ago biosecurity was not a word entrenched within the vernacular of Australian primary producers. While we have always known management and prevention of pests and diseases was imperative to the success of our livestock industries and that Australia holds the privileged position of being one of the most disease-free and ‘clean’ agricultural commodity producing countries in the world, biosecurity was not something often spoken of. But as the importance of maintaining, and verifying, our pest and disease credentials heightens in response to demands from our increasingly lucrative export markets, biosecurity has moved to the forefront of the discussion surrounding protecting the prosperity of our livestock industries. In the last year alone, agricultural biosecurity has made headlines following a Victorian Government review of practices, proposed changes to the Federal Quarantine Act, and the Director-General of Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries stating biosecurity is key to industry’s future competitiveness. There is no doubt it is critical our leaders, policy makers and agencies prioritise biosecurity and recognise it is a core part of facilitating a strong and profitable agricultural sector. Equally important is the responsibility producers, and others in the livestock value chain, to also recognise their responsibility in ensuring biosecurity is protected at the coal face of production. This is why LBN was established in 2013 as an independent industry initiative by the Cattle Council of Australia, Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia. The initiative has been funded over a three-year pilot period by industry levies held in trust. LBN provides producers with practical information about implementing on-farm animal health, welfare and biosecurity measures to deal with the many risks producers face. LBN regional officers are working closely with existing farming networks, raising awareness of biosecurity risks and the need to be prepared for possible outbreaks of exotic or endemic diseases and harmful pests, including on-farm biosecurity plans. The shared responsibility for biosecurity between governments and individuals delivers the industry a dividend of $46 million if we limit exotic disease incursion to a small number of farms by its early discovery, rather than a larger outbreak that involves many farms and multiple states. Additionally, in a large outbreak beef prices drop by 80 per cent, only returning to 85pc of pre-outbreak prices after 10 years, as opposed to a small outbreak with a drop of around 15pc returning to parity within three to four years. Early detection and reporting by producers or vets is fundamental to enabling a quick response. The second key factor in reducing disease incursions and slowing spread is the development and implementation of on-farm biosecurity plans to help minimise the risk of pests and diseases entering properties. Biosecurity must start on-farm and be integrated into the day-to-day management of livestock operations. Measures may be as small as implementing a well thought out vaccination program or appropriate disposal of carcasses - but their impact cannot be underestimated. The Livestock Biosecurity Network is working as a conduit between government and industry stakeholders and producers, helping guide the development of Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) response plans and communicating to livestock producers the practical, on-ground measures they need to take. • For more information about EAD preparedness and response plans, as well as tips on how to prepare an on-farm biosecurity plan, visit www.lbn.org.au . WARREN CLARK National Manager, Livestock Biosecurity Network