Earlier this year, the NSW government adopted a new approach to managing the bacterial wasting disease, bovine Johne’s disease (BJD). The changes were in step with the Animal Health Australia (AHA) national review of the management of the disease which recommended national deregulation.
In line with the review, the previous BJD zones have been removed, but the ability of individual states to impose their own import restrictions remains. The change centres on encouraging farm owners to ramp up their on-farm biosecurity, but the move has caused confusion among producers selling interstate, particularly into Western Australia.
Producers must have a monitored negative (MN) status of MN2 or MN3, depending on the animal’s origin, to obtain entry. The new self-regulation system is being considered by some beef producers as a “buyer beware” situation.
Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association (ARCBA) BJD spokesperson, Alex McDonald, said the only state still imposing import requirements with regard to BJD was WA. He said with the abolition of the market assurance program (MAP), WA can continue to demand the outgoing MN status until June 30, 2017, but beyond then, the western-most state might struggle to uphold such tough hurdles for entry.
“Under the new self-regulation system called the J-BAS, producers can self declare on an animal health statement,” Mr McDonald said. “That goes from a J-BAS score of 0, to a J-BAS score of 8. To obtain a J-BAS 8 score you must have two successive negative herd tests, have a biosecurity plan in place and then a negative test every three years. You must have a veterinarian involved in overseeing your on-farm biosecurity plan, but an external audit is not required.”
WA has imposed interim border controls with more stringent requirements than for J-BAS 8. For cattle introduced from QLD the herd must have a minimum J-BAS score of 8 and have had a negative “check test” of the oldest animals in the herd in the past 12 months. For the rest of Australia, the requirement is for a minimum J-BAS score of 8 with three negative biennial sample tests over four years plus certification of a negative check test within the previous 24 months if more than 24 months since the last sample test.
They have to be equivalent to an MN3 herd without the external audit, according to Mr McDonald. “I understand that the WA Department of Agriculture is currently reviewing the interim border controls for BJD,” he said.