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.