NSW Farmers

NSW Farmers


Biosecurity has been an area of focus for NSW Farmers, particularly concerning the management of Johne’s disease (JD) and the implementation the new Biosecurity Act in NSW.


NSW Farmers established a Johne’s Taskforce after our members highlighted concerns with the new approach to JD management in cattle. A particular area of apprehension was the way the cattle system interacted with other livestock species approaches and the risk profile for co-grazed livestock.


The purpose of the Taskforce was to develop a clear strategy for improving the management of JD in NSW, considering the needs of all industries impacted by the disease. To progress this goal, in December 2017 the Taskforce held a meeting with representatives from the Department of Primary Industries NSW and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR). The meeting discussed opportunities for enhancing the long-term management of JD, ensuring that producers are supported in actively managing the disease and maintaining market access.  A key area of discussion was the need to improve on-farm management of JD, with surveillance activities identified as the key tool for achieving this goal.


As part of our work on JD, NSW Farmers provided a submission to the National OJD Management Plan review. NSW Farmers supports a strategy for the management of JD in sheep that increase awareness and responsibility for farm biosecurity through encouraging the use of available tools. The relevant tools include health declarations, vaccination, abattoir monitoring, regional biosecurity plans, retention of SheepMAP and communication to producers.


NSW Farmers suggests that the ongoing management of JD should be underpinned by a focus on producers taking responsibility for managing the disease on their property. On-farm management should be supported by effective and accessible tools to allow producers to assess risk and make informed decisions. We would like to see industry bodies continue to take ownership of national JD coordination, whether this is through creating a new overarching management plan or developing strategies to enhance JD management tools and drive their uptake.


We believe that producers’ perceptions of JD are an important factor to consider when reviewing the NOJDMP. Education and awareness of the disease and its management at national, state and regional levels are critical to contain and manage disease risk. JD management has a long and complicated history and a shift toward individual responsibility will help destigmatise the issue and allow for it to be managed in a similar manner to other on-farm biosecurity issues, including brucellosis and lice. Should any changes be made to the management of JD in sheep, we encourage broad consultation with any other industries that may be directly or indirectly affected by these changes.


NSW Farmers has also worked with peak industry bodies on a review of the Cattle Health Declaration to improve the document for producers. Along with WoolProducers Australia, we raised concerns about the impact of the document on mixed producers and the implied risk of cross-species infection. The review of the Declaration will help clarify disease risk for mixed producers and ensure it provides accurate information with which purchasers can make an informed decision on the suitability of animals offered for sale.


On a broader scale, biosecurity has been a key issue in NSW with the introduction of the NSW Biosecurity Act (2015), which came into force in July 2017. The new Act implements a modern approach to biosecurity based on the idea that it is a shared responsibility between government, industry and the community. This principle creates a general biosecurity duty requiring everyone to undertake actions to minimise their biosecurity risk. It also introduces a tenure neutral approach to managing biosecurity, which requires that the biosecurity duty is applicable whether the land is publicly or privately owned.


While we support the new approach to biosecurity, NSW Farmers is concerned that the implementation of the new Act has not been sufficiently supported by government. NSW Farmers is lobbying the state government for a $45 million package to improve the management of biosecurity across NSW, requesting resources to ensure that the community and government can fulfil their duties as stipulated under the new Act. We are also requesting funds for an awareness campaign, greater resources to tackle potential incursions, and action on long-standing endemic pests to better manage the state’s biosecurity.


Livestock SA

Former Livestock SA president recognised with national award

ABARES OUTLOOK 2018 - Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Immediate past Livestock SA President Geoff Power’s long-time commitment to biosecurity in the South Australian livestock industry was recognised with an Industry Award at the 2018 Australian Biosecurity Awards in Canberra on Tuesday, March 6.

Mr Power, a producer from Orroroo, has been a key figure in helping the sheep and wool industry acknowledge the importance of biosecurity and the risk it poses to livestock production. In the past 20 years he has advocated for livestock producers as a national president, board member and SA representative for WoolProducers Australia and is a founding member and former president of Livestock SA.

He has worked hard to tackle ovine brucellosis, wild dogs and November Disease and was a strong advocate for the Livestock Biosecurity Network. He also assisted with training for biosecurity response teams, including stimulation activities Exercise Golden Fleece and Exercise Phantom Fox, and has undertaken extensive biosecurity training.

Mr Power was a major driving force behind the development of the new One Biosecurity program in SA and served for two years as chairman of the Joint Industry Primary Industries and Regions SA Working Group for the program.

He was closely involved with the design of One Biosecurity and was the first SA producer to test software developed as part of the program and featured in a video production.

The new, voluntary farm biosecurity program aims to help producers to manage on-farm biosecurity risks. It has been designed and implemented by Primary Industries and Regions SA in collaboration with Livestock SA.

Livestock SA Chief Executive Officer Andrew Curtis said the award recognised Mr Power’s long-standing commitment to the livestock industry.

“Biosecurity is a very important issue to the South Australian livestock industry, and we are pleased to see Geoff recognised for his long dedication and focus to the sector,” he said.

“He has been an integral part in the development of the One Biosecurity program in his former role as chairman of the working group and as immediate past President of Livestock SA.”

The One Biosecurity program is expected to be rolled out across SA from mid-2018.


Details: For more information visit www.livestocksa.org.au

Victorian Farmer's Federation

eID in Sheep in Victoria – an industry update

Victorian sheep producers are getting on with the business of farming under the new requirements for traceability.  The introduction of individual electronic identification (eID) was a business decision made by state government in response to a need to improve sheep and goat traceability to meet 21st century requirements.  The question was how does Government institute an accurate, timely cost effective tracing system for sheep and goat producers that will benefit industry and be fit for purpose in the future?

Traceability for food or fibre production is essential to ensure that our domestic and overseas markets have confidence in the products that we supply. We are all food producers and in Australia this comes with an enviable record of producing a safe clean green product. This reputation can be lost in an instant. The ability to identify and rapidly trace, any residue violations or contamination issues means that scenarios similar to the recent removal of all rock melon from super market shelves could be averted. The other vitally important reason for accurate and timely tracing of animals is for disease control in face of an outbreak like Anthrax or FMD. The ability to quickly trace disease contacts is critical, if a dangerous contact occurs at a saleyard there can easily be over 100 traces.

In Victoria the decision to transition from visual tags to eID was made after ongoing evidence that the current system was not going to fulfil the requirements of a modern efficient traceability system into the future.  There were three important reports that steered the direction for Victoria; the Victorian Auditor General’s Office Report on Biosecurity showed a need for significant improvement in the traceability of sheep after an Agriculture Victoria study of sheep at abattoirs demonstrated clear areas for improvement. Sheep Catcher 2 demonstrated that as far as traceability is concerned, although there has been some improvement in the past 10 years there were some performance standards where there was little improvement and they were far below the requirements.

The other critical report was Decision Regulation Impact Statement from ABARES in 2014 which showed that in Victoria, eID was the cost effective system given the current level of traceability.

The implementation has been phased, with last year’s lambs tagged and by the end of March property to property transfers are to start at the same time as saleyards start to scan sheep. Most saleyards are now ready to go and have tested their systems or in the smaller yards are using external contractors. The cost of infrastructure for saleyards has largely been met by government grants and should remove labour associated with ensuring compliance in a visual based tag system and so shouldn’t warrant additional scanning fees.

There is increased awareness that managing the so called 'phantom flock' associated with increased use of eID tags (both nationally and in Victoria) that are not removed off the national database when an animal identified with an eID tag is processed or exported, is a national issue.  There were over 600,000 NLIS (Sheep) eID tags used in NSW and SA last year.  This will continue to grow.  The problem is not just isolated to Victoria. Victorian abattoirs are already killing off tags, including those issued in SA and NSW. The majority of Victorian eID tagged sheep leaving the state go to SA where there are two processors that kill the majority of these with one enabled to scan eID tags.  The other is looking to have this capability soon. Discussions are occurring with Integrity Systems Company to allow automated removal from the database for all eID tags that are sent to an interstate abattoir.

Victorian producers put 10.8 million eID tags in last year with some starting to see the benefits that can be achieved with on farm productivity gains.  Of course this will not be uniform and will depend on individual producer’s skills and the opportunities on their properties.  Genetic gains can be accelerated with eID enabling early identification of non-productive sheep and benefits far outweigh the cost of implementation.

Animal Health Australia- AHA

Biosecurity is central to Animal Health


Dr Rob Barwell, Senior Manager Biosecurity, Animal Health Australia

Biosecurity is an important topic in the livestock industry, with wide-ranging implications at the government, industry and farm levels. These not only include concerns around animal health, welfare, food safety and market access, but also around productivity – and by extension profitability.

Australia’s core strength in safeguarding its biosecurity has always been our geographical isolation, although the ever-increasing movement of people and goods continues to present new threats over time. Though prevention is far better than cure, our national animal health system must be prepared to respond to exotic disease, pest and weed incursions.

Our role

As custodians of the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, known as the EADRA, Animal Health Australia (AHA) plays a key supporting role in the system, promoting and enhancing biosecurity at the government, industry and farm levels. In doing so, we assist our members – including the Australian Government, state and territory governments and livestock industry bodies – in meeting their biosecurity commitment under the EADRA.

At a government level, this involves AHA being represented on committees and in forums, participating in training exercises and response simulations, and providing a conduit for cooperation between different jurisdictions.

For our industry members, AHA provides knowledge and expertise across a wide variety of projects which support biosecurity, animal health and welfare, as well as working towards the early detection of emerging threats and maintaining domestic and international market access.

Sheep industry projects

Among these is the Sheep Health Project, which pursues biosecurity and animal health outcomes to boost the productivity and profitability of the sheepmeat and wool industries. The project provides a number of tools to producers and the sheep supply chain – including the National Sheep Health Declaration. This key document allows producers to convey information about the health status of their sheep, as well as any treatments and vaccinations they’ve received, to potential buyers.

AHA also manages the National Ovine Johne’s Disease Management Plan and the Market Assurance Program, known as SheepMAP, for the sheep industries. Both programs help to reduce the prevalence of Johne’s disease – a serious wasting disease – in the national sheep flock. These programs are currently under review - the national sheep industry bodies will use these reviews to determine future management of ovine Johne’s disease.

On-farm and supply chain biosecurity

An important strategy for the prevention and control of any biosecurity threat is raising awareness. At the farm level, we work with our members to build a greater understanding of the benefits of proactive biosecurity measures among livestock producers and the wider supply chain.

The Farm Biosecurity Program, run in conjunction with Plant Health Australia, promotes proactive biosecurity on-farm. The program is built around the six essentials for on-farm biosecurity, which are broad categories for assessing and managing risks, which can then be customized to suit each property.

Housed on the program’s website is a wide range of information to help producers build their understanding of what biosecurity entails and how it can be implemented at the farm level. The program also provides tools and resources to assist them in putting together a biosecurity plan to protect their property against disease, pest and weed threats.

Survey data collected by the Farm Biosecurity Program has found that producers’ level of awareness of biosecurity has continued to grow over the past decade, with producers showing a clearer understanding of what biosecurity means in the greater context of government and industry, as well as on their farm.

We look forward to improving not only this result, but also outcomes across our range of projects, sharing the benefits of a robust biosecurity system with governments, industry organisations and especially farmers nationwide.

Australian Wool Innovations- AWI

Post-farm biosecurity a focus for the wool industry

Bridget Peachey- AWI Program Manager

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) is funding a number of biosecurity projects to ensure the wool industry is prepared post-farm to respond to an emergency animal disease outbreak such as Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Led by the Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (FAWO) Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Working Group, the industry has developed an EAD preparedness research, development and extension strategy for 2016/17-2018/19.

Australia has very well-developed plans to control or eradicate certain EADs should they enter, but industries are generally less well-organised post-farm gate. The FAWO EAD Working Group aims to address the knowledge gap in the post farm preparedness in the event of an EAD.

The EAD Working Group brings together companies and peak bodies involved in the wool value chain in Australia from farm to export, with membership drawn from WPA, AWI, AWEX, AWTA, brokers and many others. The wool industry is a leader in EAD preparedness, as recognised when FAWO received an Australian Biosecurity Award in 2014.

The industry’s current EAD preparedness activities are set out in FAWO’s research, development and extension strategy for 2016/17-2018/19 which can be downloaded here). The Strategy can be summarised as follows:

Recent achievements of the program are:

  1. Traceability

In an EAD outbreak, it will be very important to trace animals and animal products backwards and forwards from centres of infection. AWI commissioned a study to assess how readily wool could be traced through the value chain. The study showed that most lines of baled wool can be reliably traced but the process is time-consuming because not all systems are directly linked.

FAWO is currently seeking to ensure that farm Property Identification Codes (PICs) are included in the information accompanying wool, as the PIC is the identifier used by government when managing disease outbreaks.

  1. Bale disinfection

Bales may need to be disinfected if they left a property later found to be infected or were exposed to other sources of infection. A prototype unit that will allow rapid disinfection of the outside of wool bales has been developed by AWTA with AWI funding (see photo below).

Initial evaluation of the bale sprayer has been completed. This work included an assessment of the effects of citric acid (the disinfectant that would be used against FMD) on wool just inside the nylon pack. No negative effects were found. Further field trials are planned for 2018/19.

  1. Wool disinfection

If a disease agent is suspected to be present within wool bales or loose wool, then that agent will need to be deactivated before the wool will be suitable for any movement including export. For most diseases of concern, this will mean storing the wool for a period of time sufficient to kill off the agent. The time required depends on the temperature to which the agent is exposed.

A project to develop a system to track the accumulation of ‘heat units’ (time x temperature) in baled wool is underway. The project will also examine the relationship between in-bale and ambient temperatures.

It is hoped that this system will give trading partners confidence that wool has been stored for long enough to deactivate any disease agent that may have been present.

  1. Codification

Considerable effort has gone towards ensuring the wool industry has the necessary plans in place to for an EAD event. The government/industry framework, ‘AUSVETPLAN’, includes wool enterprises but the wool-related information in it is not as cohesive and comprehensive as it could be.

A specific ‘Wool Enterprise Manual’ was developed in 2015. Proposed updates to this and other AUSVETPLAN manuals have recently been submitted to Animal Health Australia and are being reviewed. These updates will make clearer how wool and wool enterprises should be handled in the case of an EAD outbreak, minimising the time before they can resume trade.

A template EAD response plan has also been developed for wool enterprises such as brokers’ stores and test houses. Supporting the template is an online ‘Biosecurity Risk Assessment Tool’ that helps identify biosecurity weaknesses that may delay a wool enterprise from returning to trade. The tool will shortly be available on the FAWO and AWI websites.

  1. Capacity building

A 5-hour workshop to prepare wool enterprises for an EAD event is being piloted in March/April with three organisations. The workshop will explain how the business would be affected by an EAD event and what steps can be taken during ‘peacetime’ to minimise these impacts. If the pilot is successful the training may be rolled out more broadly across the industry.

Further information on the industry’s EAD preparedness activities can be obtained from the AWI Program Manager, Bridget Peachey, on 02 8295 3139 or at bridget.peachey@wool.com.