Queensland cattle producers will now have an extra three months to prepare biosecurity plans after Animal Health Australia and the Cattle Council of Australia agreed to be flexible on new requirements for managing Johne’s disease.
AgForce Cattle President Bim Struss said many producers were only now becoming aware of new biosecurity obligations and what they needed to do to continue to trade with the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
“Changes to biosecurity laws have shifted a lot of the costs and responsibilities for managing pests and diseases on to producers,” he said.
“The new national approach to Johne’s disease in cattle has seen most states remove regulations, including here in Queensland, with Animal Health Australia developing a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) for cattle producers to manage on-farm risks themselves.
“However, the NT and WA have decided to legislate minimum entry requirements that include a biosecurity plan, and in the case of WA, herd testing.
“In addition, a biosecurity plan will also soon be required for producers to be accredited under the Livestock Production Assurance program overseen by Meat and Livestock Australia.
“There has been a lot of confusion and frustration about the various new requirements. Many producers have been concerned they will not have a biosecurity plan in place by 30 June 2017, meaning their J-BAS could drop to zero and take years to build back up.
“AgForce approached Animal Health Australia and Cattle Council of Australia urging flexibility and more support for producers, with these organisations now agreeing to a three-month extension before the new Johne’s disease management framework takes full effect.
“While AgForce would have preferred a twelve-month deferral of biosecurity planning requirements, an extra three months will at least give producers some much needed breathing space and their J-BAS will stay at level six rather than drop back to zero from 1 July 2017.
“The reality is most cattle producers are already doing the right thing and can confidently tick yes to most if not all of the biosecurity plan boxes. Developing a biosecurity plan will just document the good work producers are already doing, but producers need more time to prepare.”
Mr Struss said AgForce and Livestock Biosecurity Network will be holding a series of biosecurity planning workshops throughout June 2017 to provide Queensland producers with a choice of templates and information on how to design a biosecurity plan that suits their individual business needs.
“AgForce Queensland is committed to delivering the best outcomes for its members and the industry as a whole, and we are seeking more funding to run more biosecurity workshops to assist producers to understand what they need to do to meet the requirements of the market,” he said.
Mr Struss said AgForce was also conducting an online survey to gain a better understanding of current on-farm biosecurity knowledge, capability and practices, with the information gathered to be used to identify how best to assist producers to improve practices and maximise production.