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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2010
50 YEARBOOK 2010 CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA That said the policy environment that we operate in is as charged as ever with the upcoming elections, state and federal, ensuring plenty of opportunities to put forward VFF policy at both levels. The past 12 months has been an interesting and distracting period for the VFF. Following the VFF Annual General Meeting (AGM) in June 2009 a large amount of VFF's time has been dedicated towards discussions on who and what the VFF is. Much of this took place in the form of the review of the VFF constitution and the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) that followed. The EGM provided VFF members with a forum for frank and open discussion on the VFF, and reminded us that our members feel very strongly about their state farming organisation. Although a majority of the meeting supported the proposed constitution the numbers were not there to carry it. More work has been put into it and it will again be put to the members at the VFF AGM in Bendigo this coming June. Amid all the distractions going on both internally and at a national level for the beef industry the VFF has furthered a number of issues at a local level. OPERATION DIVA In the second half of 2009 a number of VFF members took part in the DPI's Exercise Diva '09. This was an emergency response exercise program based on a hypothetical scenario of an outbreak of Foot and mouth disease (FMD). The objectives of the exercise include: • Assessing preparedness of government and industry to implement a livestock standstill; • Trialling the "vaccinate to live" operational policy; • Developing and testing a comprehensive communication strategy; and • Fully scoping resource requirements for a FMD outbreak. As I write this Victoria is green and cattle prices are looking up. By my best guess this is possibly the first time in 10 years a representative of the Victorian Farmers Federation has been able to make such a positive outlook on the season. The last of the operation DIVA events was the functional exercise held in November where DPI staff and stakeholders take part in a real-time foot and mouth (FMD) outbreak simulation to test Victoria's emergency animal disease response capacity. While the exercise was a success the VFF has identified a number of areas that we think could be improved and will be pursuing in the coming months; • There is a strong need to ensure that all livestock industries are represented. This will not only assist with the actual event but also ensure coordination at a national level also through groups such as the Peak Industry Councils. • We need more clearly defined roles for Industry Liaison Officers (ILOs). This will allow not only for the ILO's to do their jobs more effectively but ensure that DPI staff know how to best utilise the industry knowledge of the ILOs. • Instigate regular training and briefings for ILOs to ensure that they are appropriately skilled up and informed. This should include training new ILOs. • Update the VFF Emergency Animal Response Plan including consultation with all commodity groups. • There is a need to ensure that appropriate financial support is available to ILOs as recognition of the service they provide to the livestock industries. This should be both in the event of an incident and for any training and preparation work. • A greater focus needs to be put on planning for recovery from any disease event, both long and short term strategies. This includes managing the myriad of issues that arise due to an event such as closure of markets, loss of jobs, dealing with vaccinated animals and supporting industries until they recover. Victorian Farmers' Federation