Managing risk is something farmers are generally good at, but when it's something new, what do you do?
A sense of powerlessness, or a lack of control, is perhaps the number one cause of farmer frustration around potential exotic disease incursions, including foot and mouth and lumpy skin.
Knowing they have to put their trust in the decisions and actions of our governments and that if a serious incursion occurs, it is up to those departments to contain and eradicate it, is tough, as there are many unknowns and many farmers would like to hear that no expenses are being spared.
However, just like any other potentially difficult situation, all a farmer can do is what's in their control - and this can still play an important role in helping with not just a major disease outbreak, but also with existing pests and diseases.
In recent years there have been a number of reminders about the importance of farm biosecurity, whether it's having paddocks where stock can be isolated and quarantined, monitoring stock health regularly, maintaining good boundary fences and controlling feral pests (also see "Time to quarantine the farm", p4).
We also need to remember that Indonesia is our neighbour and working with them to get the disease outbreaks under control is not only important for reducing the risk of it arriving in Australia, but also to help them have food security and a resilient economy.
Given the already cool relationship we currently have with China, we don't need to be distancing ourselves from any other neighbours in the region, or leaving the door open for them to be the ones that help, as exotic diseases are not the only risk looming off our shores.
The good news is, there is a plan to rebuild Australia's biosecurity defences - the National Biosecurity Strategy.
As reported last week ("There's a plan to fix biosecurity that just needs govt to pull trigger", theland.com.au, July 13), it has already been ticked off by organisations such as the National Farmers' Federation and the CSIRO.
It is yet to be released to the public, but was handed to department officials just before the election. Now it just needs the green light from the new government.
So there is movement in the right direction, but what this has also reinforced is that biosecurity has in recent years been an under valued national security issue.
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