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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2010
26 YEARBOOK 2010 CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA Cattle producers play a major role in supporting on-going trade by contributing levy moneys for trade-related animal-health activities and acting as 'outpost sentries' in regional and remote areas where trade-affecting diseases can materialise. Cattle Council of Australia has spent over thirty years representing producers' interests in designing animal- health programs and monitoring their implementation. This role is increasing in importance as trade becomes more rules-based and industry is being asked to shoulder more responsibility for policy development and the funding of national programs. THE EADRA AND ITS BEGINNINGS The Emergency Animal Diseases Response Agreement, or EADRA, is central to Australia's defences against major trade-destroying disease outbreaks. It represents the backbone of the relationship between Australia's livestock industries and the Federal and State/Territory governments and underpins the 'partnership' approach this country has adopted through the formation of Animal Health Australia (AHA). AHA and the EADRA were formalised in the 1990s when a small group of far-sighted individuals noted the haphazard, jurisdiction-based arrangements for managing and funding animal-disease control and eradication programs. This was particularly concerning given Australia's vulnerability to fickle world markets that can close with little notice in the face of an unexpected disease outbreak. Cattle Council of Australia, and all Australian cattle producers, can take much of the credit for the creation of the EADRA. Their joint funding and management efforts, along with significant input from the federal and jurisdictional governments, led to the eradication of brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis over several decades from the 1970s. This set the scene for the EADRA, now an internationally renowned model for disease preparedness, detection, control and eradication. Cattle Council is a signatory to the EADRA. There are nine other industry signatories, covering all major agricultural livestock industries with the exception of the horse industry. The horse industry is currently negotiating with the Federal Government for the adoption of a levy to provide for a funding stream into AHA and, thereafter, for the industry to be a signatory. Ironically, the largest emergency animal disease response undertaken in Australia to date involved Equine Influenza in 2007. Because the horse industry had yet to sign the EADRA and deliver a workable fund-raising levy system, the EADRA funding arrangements were unable to be triggered; nevertheless, the EADRA principles for disease management, control and eradication were implemented and led to the eradication of the disease in record time. For the cattle industry, foot and mouth disease is certainly considered the most serious of diseases among the 67 listed in the EADRA. It has been estimated that a worst- case outbreak of FMD in Australia would cost between $6 and $13 billion, making ongoing vigilance vital. OTHER AHA PROGRAMS Of course there are more than just EADRA activities progressed through AHA. All in all, around $10 million of industry and government money is channelled into AHA each year to fund animal disease programs and guide the maintenance of Australia's infrastructure to promote our readiness for dealing with an emergency disease situation, preserve our animal-health status and minimise losses through trade disruption. AHA's programs are numerous and can be viewed in its website, www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au. Needless to say Cattle Council of Australia, as the representative body for the largest industry contributor, keeps a keen eye on AHA's activities and works closely with the federal and jurisdictional governments and the other 15 industry Peak Councils to ensure appropriate strategies are developed and goals met. Cattle Council and animal health Australian agriculture depends heavily on trade, to the extent that it influences our daily lives. For the cattle industry, foot and mouth disease is certainly considered the most serious of diseases among the 67 listed in the EADRA.