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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2009
CA TTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA YEARBOOK 2009 Biosecurity Grows in Importance We can prepare for a major exotic disease incursion all we like; however, it requires an actual event to test our resource capability for stemming the spread of a disease and striving for its eradication. development in Australia. With apologies to all those who were financially affected, it was in a sense the incursion we had to have. T beale report A most notable outcome from the incursion has been the Independent Review of Australia’s Quarantine and Biosecurity Arrangements conducted for the Federal Government by a panel chaired by Roger Beale. Through its final report to Government on 18 December 2008 the Panel provided 84 recommendations for improvements to the system, with most recommendations being given immediate in-principle Government acceptance. Full details of the Beale Report, and the Government’s response to it, are available from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website (www.daff. gov.au). In essence, the goal is to achieve a restructured quarantine and biosecurity service that reflects a shared responsibility between the Federal and State & Territory governments and a sound consultative mechanism between governments and industry. It is still early days; however, Cattle Council of Australia continues to work with Government, directly and through the peak bodies of National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) and Red Meat Advisory Council to influence the final model for the benefit of the beef cattle sector. This is particularly so regarding the proposed future consultative mechanism: in Cattle Council’s view, the Panel fell short of recommending an optimum framework. Through NFF, the agricultural industry is also having an advisory role in the drafting of legislation to replace the age-old Quarantine Act 1908 and associated regulations in time for Royal Assent around 30 June 2010; a very tight timeframe. 34 he equine influenza outbreak of late 2007 was such an incident. It had, and continues to have, a profound effect on disease-related policy researCh and development Aside from the Beale outcomes, there is a range of animalwelfare, biosecurity and disease-related issues occupying Cattle Council’s time. Following are a few examples. bovine Johne’s disease The Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD) control program continues to be refined following its commencement in the mid 1990s. It is essentially a disease associated with the dairy industry, necessitating a management program skewed in that direction. BJD infection prevents the free movement of cattle around the country. Given this, and BJD’s growing importance overseas (Japan, for example, is reportedly testing its entire herd every five years and many countries in Europe and the Americas are implementing their own control programs), it is incumbent upon Cattle Council to join the dairy sector in steering industry funding towards herd assessments as part of a risk-based assurance approach and additional Research and Development (R&D) projects that target improved diagnostic tests and lead to the production of a workable vaccine. A greater understanding of the disease and its behaviour is essential, hence the R&D programs being funded via Animal Health Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia’s Donor Company. animal Welfare r&d The current development of the Cattle Welfare Standards and Guidelines (as described in my Welfare article elsewhere on page 24) is utilising a range of existing pain-related analyses and reports as background; but there are gaps. Through additional R&D, Cattle Council is pursing a greater awareness of animal-welfare impacts from electro-immobilisation, spaying, fire branding, dehorning, castration and other management practices used in cattle production; many are considered essential so the aim is to reduce negative welfare impacts on the animals to as low a level as possible. Recognised animal-welfare agencies are involved. 1117_CCA Yearbook 2009.indd 34 5/5/09 8:00:20 PM