BEEF industry leaders are confident the vast majority of producers have on-farm biosecurity plans well underway and will be positioned to continue trading as per normal as new guidelines come in.
Confusion has been widespread over requirements due to come into effect on July 1 under the shift to property-level management of Bovine Johne’s Disease (BJD), agreed to after widespread consultation in 2015/16 and overseen by producer group Cattle Council of Australia (CCA).
That confusion was exacerbated when it was announced last week that the same biosecurity plan would be required to gain or renew Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation from October 1.
Fears were rife that saleyard cattle buyers, particularly processors, would not be willing to bid on cattle from properties that did not have in place the plan, and thus had fallen to the lowest Johne’s assurance score of zero.
To alleviate that, CCA last week announced a ‘breathing space’ whereby herds will revert to a Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) 6 rather than 0 if no on-farm biosecurity plan is in place by July 1.
The October 1 deadline for LPA accreditation, or reaccreditation, requiring on-farm biosecurity planning remains in place and the hope is all producers will have the necessary paperwork in place by then.
Most producers will be looking to establish a J-BAS 6 but those doing business with Western Australia, and likely most seedstock producers, will be aiming for a 7 or 8, which requires a veterinarian to sign off on their plan and testing of their herd for evidence of BJD.
Until last week’s LPA announcement, the only act in town regarding biosecurity plans was the move to a new national approach for managing Johne’s disease in beef cattle.
The changes are designed to do away with quarantining zones, which have proven costly to producers over the years, and shift the responsibility for managing pests and diseases to an individual farm level.
The key to the transition has been the implementation of on-farm biosecurity plans and J-BAS scores are the tool for identifying risk.
The new approach has seen most states remove regulations.
However, WA - which has been zoned Johne’s disease free, and the Northern Territory opted to retain the ‘border control’ approach, arguing their beef industry was dependent on overseas markets for live animals and this would give the best assurance of maintaining a disease-free or low-prevalence status.
Holding the border control makes it easier for these state governments to authorise the animals being from a BJD free property.
The result has been the setting of a high bar for producers needing to satisfy WA and NT access requirements.
It will have the greatest implication in Queensland, where many are looking to export live cattle out of Darwin and large numbers are also sent to be fattened in the Kimberley or NT floodplains.
A number of producers from South Eastern Australia also have property in WA and so will be affected.
Around 300 producers who have already been through extensive testing under the old system, the now-obsolete Market Assurance Program, and have earned their stripes will automatically be a J-BAS 8, according to CCA.
How many plans do I need?
Just the one. The same on-farm planning template will be used for LPA and J-BAS, with producers who have a focus on JD being required to complete the optional questions on JD.
How does the scoring system work?
The J-BAS system works on a set of scores measured off a producer’s previous exposure to JD and their preparedness in managing their risk. An outline of the score system can be found here
Where is a veterinarian needed?
To maintain J-BAS 7 or above, producers must have a biosecurity plan overseen and signed by a veterinarian and have undertaken a 'check test' (50 samples) with clear results.
How do I get a plan?
This link provides a biosecurity plan template that can be used to develop an on-farm biosecurity plan that will meet the requirements:
What happens if I do nothing?
The default position from July 1 for any producer without a biosecurity plan will be J-BAS 6. However, a plan will need to be completed by October 1 for any producer who wants to remain LPA accredited so CCA is urging producers to ‘get on with it'. CCA will re-asses the default position closer to October.
What do I need to trade with WA?
Cattle travelling to Western Australia will need to be J-BAS 7 or 8, depending the State they are coming from, and meet other entry requirements as set out in the health certificate for movement of stock to WA (LB1 form). More information can be found at here
What do I need to trade into with the NT?
Cattle travelling to the NT from 1 July 2017 will need to be J-BAS 6 and accompanied by a Cattle Health Declaration from the property of origin. There is no need for vet endorsement or testing. National Cattle Health Declaration form is here.
What if I have a milker in the front yard?
If you have a milker and she doesn’t mix with the beef herd it’s not an issue. It is up to the owner to determine what the risk is. The best advice is be honest. Say you have a milker but there is no co-grazing.