President's Report

President's Report 

with Richard Halliday

Welcome to Issue 2 of The Wool Press. This issue focuses on biosecurity and the important role that producers have to play on farm.

I would like to begin this issue by sharing with you my own experience with on-farm biosecurity.

Nothing says life lesson like experience, and our business has over the years, has faced some serious biosecurity challenges. The greatest lesson learnt to date has been that you, and you alone have the ability to manage and control the biosecurity risk on your property.

Our story:

During routine Market Assurance Program Johne’s disease testing on our property, 1 sheep out of 2000 tested positive to OJD. As we are based in South Australia, where OJD is a notifiable and actionable disease, we were placed in quarantine. This put us in a tough position and resulted in the sale of a significant number of our sheep.

Quarantine put a significant strain on our business and resulted in some big changes in farm management. The remaining mobs were tested on farm, and all hoggets were vaccinated with Gudair. Moving forward, all lambs less than 4 months of age continue to be routinely vaccinated. During this period of quarantine, we continued to undertake testing, with no further positives tests detected. All stock sold, were sold directly to abattoir and subjected to abattoir surveillance, again no positive tests were detected.

In order to maintain our seed stock, stud ewes were purchased and run on a separate farm, a practice we continue today. A further two clear flock tests were conducted and the home property received an ‘all-clear’, quarantine was lifted and our business could resume.

It has taken our business seven years to rebuild, since the initial positive test, and it has required significant changes to our on-farm management practices to ensure the continued clear status that we have achieved. A stringent on-farm biosecurity plan was developed and implemented, which is integral to the future security of our business.

This experience underlines my earlier statement, that you solely have the ability to manage and control the biosecurity risk on your farm. You have the ability to control what happens within your boundaries.

My advice is to always ensure that when purchasing new stock, do your homework, use the tools available to you to ensure you know the history of the animal by requesting both the National Vendor Declaration and Sheep Health Declaration - if you don’t have this information you risk introducing a new biosecurity threat on to your farm. In turn if you are selling stock, have these documents available for the purchaser and keep records of your stock health status for ease of information transfer.

 

Richard Halliday

President, Woolproducers Australia

 


Chief Executive Officer Report

Chief Executive Officer Report

with Jo Hall

 

Welcome to the second edition of The WoolPress. This edition has a focus on biosecurity, which is an important pillar of all woolgrowers’ business but there are a number of issues happening within industry at the moment which makes this edition particularly timely.

 

We have again sought articles from a range of industry partners and stakeholders to highlight the range of issues that are currently being addressed throughout our wonderful industry.

 

In the past few months we have seen the roll out of new modules of Livestock Assurance Program (LPA) for both animal welfare and biosecurity, which requires biosecurity plans to be developed for all properties under LPA.

 

WoolProducers in conjunction with Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) have also undertaken national reviews of both the Ovine Jonhes Disease (OJD) National Management Program and the Sheep Market Assurance Program (Sheep MAP) and the National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Grazing Livestock is also being reviewed.

 

From a national biosecurity perspective WoolProducers Australia, Sheep Producers Australia and Animal Health Australia (AHA) developed the Sheep Health Project (SHP) in 2014, as a more holistic approach to address endemic sheep conditions.

 

The idea behind the SHP was to reduce the management and production focus on any one particular disease or condition (i.e. OJD), using biosecurity as the underpinning plank to reduce the impact of all endemic conditions. The farmgate benefits of this are two-fold – sound biosecurity principles are relevant to all diseases and conditions, so instead of managing one disease in isolation shifting the focus to biosecurity addresses all diseases, and by broadening the scope will also reduce the stigma that may be associated with any one disease. For more information: Sheep Health Project

 

Whilst biosecurity is an integral part of industry there are, as always, a number of other issues happening in the wool industry that woolgrowers also need to be aware of.

 

WoolProducers have launched our ‘Raising the Baa’ project, which is a project under the Commonwealth’s Leadership in Agriculture Fund. This important project will look to address the gap in industry capacity building and will provide an opportunity to upskill a number of woolgrowers in the areas of representation, with a strong focus on corporate governance and directorship skills. For an overview of this exciting initiative please see here.

 

The Program will provide an innovative and supportive environment for leaders within the wool industry to continue to develop and refine their leadership skills in order to contribute to ongoing capacity and capability building within industry. In doing so, current and future leaders within the wool industry will be provided with the tools to develop policy and strategy in a complex and challenging environment. Please contact WoolProducers if you are interested in participating in this exciting initiative.

 

2018 is another WoolPoll year, whereby growers will get the chance to vote for the amount of levy they wish to pay to research, development and marketing. The WoolPoll Panel has been convened to oversee the process (see WPA’s media release here). WoolPoll voting will take place over a six-week period between 17 September and 2 November 2018.

 

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon David Littleproud, announced in February that an independent review into AWI would be conducted in the lead up to WoolPoll. WoolProducers welcomed the review (see WPA’s media release here), but have since expressed concerns over the independence of this review. WoolProducers hopes that this review offers a genuine opportunity to improve the governance, transparency and accountability of AWI, whilst also ensuring that AWI start working effectively and collaboratively with stakeholders.

 

WoolProducers have an action list that we would like to be addressed regarding the operations of AWI, which in some cases will require Constitutional change and in others will just require the Board to improve their current performance.

 

WoolProducers wants reform leading to transparency and genuine independence in the following areas: the conduct of WoolPoll; the entire voting and election process, including the Board Nomination Committee, proxy allocation and declaration and shareholder access; the operations of the Industry Consultative Committee and the three-yearly Review of Performance.

 

The Terms of Reference for the review can be seen here, and we hope that woolgrowers take the opportunity to have their say. Ernst and Young have been appointed to conduct the review, with the deadline for submission is 4 May, 2018. Further information can be found here.

 

On behalf of WoolProducers, I hope that you enjoy this edition of The WoolPress and as always if you have any questions regarding any issues raised in this newsletter, or the wool industry in general, please contact the office at info@woolproducers.com.au

 


Would your business survive an Emergency Animal Disease Outbreak?

Would your business survive an Emergency Animal Disease Outbreak?

While it seems scary, every few years there is an exotic disease incursion in Australian livestock. The likelihood of emergency animal diseases (EADs) such as foot‐and‐mouth disease, anthrax and bluetongue is low but when outbreaks do occur, they have a serious impact on businesses.

An EAD could result in impacts on export markets and restrictions on livestock movements, and (in the case of a foot‐and‐mouth disease outbreak) an initial national livestock ‘standstill’. Infected or at‐risk properties may also be required to cull livestock to help stop the disease from spreading.

Every business has developed ways of reducing the impact of disruption to normal operations that occur from time to time. For example – if you use machinery, to minimise the risk of breakdown you may keep common spare parts on hand. Have you thought about how your business would cope with an incident large enough to put you out of business, even if it was unlikely to occur?

We have a manual available to assist growers to prepare a risk management plan for an EAD outbreak. Thirty minutes spent completing this plan could improve the resilience of your business. It can help farm managers and owners to:

  • Outline the main risks for your business
  • Analyse how these risks relate to your business and which risks you should address
  • List possible actions that you can undertake to prepare or respond to an EAD outbreak

If you would like a copy of this manual, it is available on line for download here or a hard copy can be sent to you – please email info@woolproducers.com.au to request a copy.


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.