The JBAS conundrum


The new National Cattle Health Declaration is a joke, and throws the cattle industry into muddy waters.


Just when I thought the Johnes Beef Assurance Scorecrard was gone, I received a note from my stock and station agent with a couple of pages from the Livestock Biosecurity Network. Included was a Cattle National Health Declaration.

It states: “Are these from a herd on property with an occurrence of Johnes Disease, JD, in any susceptible species, within the last five years?” Explanatory notes say, “if your herd or the properties the cattle have come from have had JD for the last five years, answer yes.”

This approach to a legal document shows contempt for cattle producers. For example, in the case of a cattle producer with sheep, suppose the cattle are JD free and the sheep are not, do they answer the question as written, or follow the explanatory note? Yes or no, take your pick! This has been brought about by a thoroughly slack approach to this matter.

The words “in any susceptible species” should be removed because the risk of transmitting JD, if a recent case has occurred in cattle, is 100 times greater than if the cattle are JD free and there has been a recent case in sheep.

And there is no question, if the answer is yes, to determine which species was infected. It could be cattle only, sheep only, or both, and the timeframe zero to five years is also important, as is remedial action.

All these different risk categories are amateurishly lumped together into one score.

I understand there was an elite group of experts to decide these issues.

They may have agreed on a particular general course of action, but obviously did not get final documents referred back to them. Animal Health Australia and Cattle Council of Australia signed off on them.

The CCA should have referred these matters back to people with a better knowledge of the untoward consequences of this amateurish scheme who would have rejected it or modified it to make it workable. As it is now, no one with any knowledge of JBAS is going to report a suspicious case, for fear of appearing on a “list” of confirmed cases of JD.

If driving the disease underground while allowing it to progress is AHA and CCA’s aim, perhaps we should get rid of both?

Peter B Carter,

“Umagarlee”, Wellington.


From the front page

Sponsored by