Ovine Johne's Disease

National OJD Management Plan to start 1 July

Ian McCollThe Australian sheep industry has agreed on revised arrangements for a National Ovine Johne's Disease Management Plan to take effect from 1 July, which will enable producers to take a risk-management approach to their farm biosecurity.

The plan for 2013-18 was developed following extensive consultation with producers, industry and state governments.

Central to the plan is a new National Sheep Health Statement (SHS), which is the most important disease risk assessment tool that provides producers with the relevant information to make informed purchasing decisions.

The SHS has been designed for adoption nation-wide and includes recognition of OJD vaccination and testing results. It features a series of ‘Yes / No’ questions to allow buyers to quickly make informed biosecurity decisions.

SCA President Ian McColl (pictured left) said the onus will be on producers to request a completed SHS when purchasing sheep.

“The SHS will provide advice on the health status of sheep – not just OJD – and will allow buyers to assess disease risks against their own individual circumstances,” Mr McColl said.

The new SHS is the most important disease risk management tool that sheep buyers can use.

Producer feedback during the public consultation on the National OJD Management Plan indicated that zoning should end.

“There will be no nationally recognised trading restrictions, zones or areas in relation to OJD prevalence under the OJD Management Plan 2013-18,” Mr McColl said. “Some areas or states may choose to put in place entry requirements.”

The plan also encourages producers to collectively develop their own Regional Biosecurity Plans (RBPs), due to the added effectiveness of a collective approach.

RBPs are a set of actions agreed to by a group of producers to manage biosecurity risk for their farms, (e.g. groups may agree to only buy vaccinated sheep). Guidelines are available to assist groups of producers in preparing an RBP.

Following endorsement by the boards of WoolProducers Australia and Sheepmeat Council of Australia, as well as the National OJD Management Committee, the OJD Management Plan was noted by the inter-governmental Animal Health Committee, clearing the way for industry to prepare for implementation come 1 July.

“Historically, OJD management has been a difficult issue for our industry and one that has been debated for many years,” WPA President Geoff Power said.

"We believe producers are supportive of this direction and by enabling industry to take responsibility for OJD management.

“The efforts of WPA and SCA will now be focussed on communication activities. We will be working closely with industry groups across the country to assist producers and industry to understand the revised system.”

A new OJD website, www.ojd.com.au, has been developed as a reference point on how to manage the disease, reduce the risk of disease spread and access key documents such as the SHS and guidelines on developing RBPs.

The National OJD Management Plan 2013-18 also provides for on-going funding of research and development.

More information on OJD, as well as copies of the National OJD Management Plan 2013-18 and the Sheep Health Statement (SHS), are available from www.ojd.com.au

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