The detection of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in popular travel destination, Bali, has put Australia's livestock industries on high alert. With school holidays and a heightened interest in travel following COVID-19 restrictions, confirmation of the serious livestock disease in the Indonesian herd has given rise to the scary possibility of a "superhighway" to Australia.
This is very unsettling knowledge for livestock producers, especially those who have images of the devastating 2000's FMD outbreak in the UK imprinted on their memory. But producers must remember that there are several factors involved in the spread of FMD, and they themselves can play a key role in keeping the awful disease at bay.
On-farm biosecurity is critical to stopping the spread of any disease, and the basics apply to FMD. Don't let footwear from outside the farm onto the farm. That's rule number one. Have a biosecurity plan in place. Learn the basics of emergency animal disease (EAD) response and know the signs and symptoms of FMD.
We are urging the Australian Government to do more at the border. In response to strong industry advocacy, the feds have installed several new measures including more detector dogs, additional signage and awareness, and stronger mail profiling.
We still think federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt should rethink his stance on footbaths at major airports. Not to mention the need for a better biosecurity funding model, which would hold those introducing a risk to account and fund biosecurity long-term.
It feels as though Australia is being attacked on all fronts. It was only weeks ago that the harmful bee disease Varroa mite was detected on our shores, threatening to harm not only our honeybee populations but also the critical pollination services they provide.
Lumpy skin disease is also sitting close by in Indonesia. But FMD is the one that really sends shivers down a farmer's spine. Biosecurity is a serious matter, and NSW Farmers has long been calling for more. Now, we're learning all too quickly why.
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