Australia takes FMD precautions

By Carina Perkins

- Last updated on GMT

Australia takes FMD precautions

Related tags: Meat, Beef, Lamb, Livestock

Representatives from across Australia’s meat sector have met to discuss measures to tackle the threat posed by foot-and-mouth disease.

The National FMD Stakeholder Forum met in Sydney last week with a focus on industry and government collaboration to ensure Australia is prepared for an outbreak of the disease. Issues discussed included the potential use of vaccination, the strengthening of emergency response capabilities and the use of scanning and strategic intelligence to spot outbreaks early.

Australia’s chief veterinary officer Dr Mark Schipp said: “The FMD Forum, hosted by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), marks the first time we have seen a truly national approach to addressing the threat of FMD. Constant vigilance and awareness about the risks, and determination to protect the livestock industry is the only way to ensure we do not suffer dire economic consequences.”

He pointed out that outbreaks of FMD have devsstated livestock sectors in other countries. “It was only a decade ago that an outbreak of FMD in the United Kingdom cost their economy the equivalent of AUD$19 billion, and it was only last year that South Korea experienced multi-billion dollar losses from this disease.”

Traceability

Participants at the forum agreed that the ability to trace livestock movements would be essential to any FMD response plans, and said cross-sector traceability arrangements should be put in place, with a national livestock standstill simulation exercise carried out to test their effectiveness.

Duncan Rowland, the executive manager of Biosecurity Services at Animal Health Australia, explained: “Inadequate traceability arrangements in one sector greatly increase the risk to other sectors, given that the effectiveness of control measures will rely upon how quickly susceptible animals can be traced.”

The need to communicate carefully with consumers was also discussed. “The last thing the country needs in an FMD outbreak is for people to stop eating meat and other animal products because of misperceptions about their safety," ​said Schipp.

FMD is seen as one of the biggest single threats to the Australian livestock sector. Last year, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has warned that an outbreak of FMD could cause severe losses to country’s meat sector, with estimates ranging from AUD$7.1 billion for a three month outbreak to AUD$16.0 billion for a 12 month outbreak.

Related topics: Meat

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