The detection some months ago of lumpy skin disease in countries close to Australia had the Australian dairy industry on alert. However, the news that foot and mouth disease had now been detected in Indonesia - including the popular Australian tourist destination, Bali - has significantly heightened biosecurity concerns.
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Australian dairy organisations work to manage disease threats

All dairy farms should already have a sound biosecurity plan in place, but the threat of LSD and FMD means that now is the time to review and update farm’s plan.

The potential damage that these diseases could do to Australia’s dairy industry – and the wider national economy – is significant. Australia has been FMD-free since 1872 and everyone within the dairy industry must strive to ensure that an incursion of the highly contagious viral disease, which affects cloven-hoofed animals, does not happen.

The federal government is responsible for enforcing biosecurity at the Australian border and has already enacted a range of measures aimed at preventing an incursion of FMD into our country. Dairy Australia is working closely with key industry bodies, including Australian Dairy Farmers and the Australian Dairy Products Federation, to provide an industry-wide response to the threat of FMD and LSD.

Dairy Australia is also focused on providing the dairy industry with all the resources and information they need to prepare for, and prevent, a possible incursion of either FMD or LSD, as well as respond to any incursion should either disease enter the country.

A new Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness page has been set up on the Dairy Australia website to collate all the latest information and resources on LSD and LSD. All farmers and dairy industry professionals are encouraged to visit the webpage, familiarise themselves with the signs of both FMD and LSD and review the biosecurity and other information available. Visit website dairyaustralia.com.au/fmd.

Quick detection and response to these diseases gives our industry the best chance of eradication.

Report any suspicious signs in your animals to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch

Hotline on 1800 675 888.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are the risks?

An outbreak of either disease would cost the Australian dairy industry billions in loss of international trade, the cost of the response, and the potential loss of cattle. Even if no dairy farms are directly infected, all dairy and cattle trade will be impacted by international market loss.

What are the diseases?

Lumpy skin disease is a cattle disease (including buffalo), mostly transmitted by biting insects. This causes skin lumps, reduced milk production, weight loss fever and abortion. This disease is most likely to come into Australia by insects blown across to Northern Australia on monsoon winds.

Foot and mouth disease is a disease affecting cloven-hoofed (two-toed) animals (e.g. cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and camelids). It may cause blisters or ulcers in the mouth, feet and teats as well as lameness, a drop in milk production or even sudden death in calves. This disease is more likely to be bought into Australia by the illegal importation of infected meat products, feeding of human table scraps to pigs or on contaminated clothing or shoes.

What is the industry doing?

To address these risks, the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments – along with relevant industries – are working together to prevent and prepare for an incursion. Dairy Australia and Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) are involved in a cross-industry taskforce that is coordinating work to ensure all impacted industries have input into government plans and enable collaboration on any research needed. The federal department and Australian chief vet regularly participate in the cross-industry taskforce meetings.

The Australian dairy industry has also activated an emergency animal disease response team to develop relevant dairy resources and technical information to prepare for potential incursions of either FMD or LSD. This work is split into key areas, including preparedness and prevention, policies and response for post-incursion, industry training opportunities, trade and market access and communications.

Dairy Australia and ADF are both members of Animal Health Australia and are heavily involved in the current revisions of the AUSVETPLAN emergency animal disease response manuals for both these diseases. Managed by Animal Health Australia, AUSVETPLAN provides a nationally agreed approach for the response to an emergency animal disease, and the dairy industry is working hard to ensure these agreed approaches account for dairy production systems.

What can farmers do?

While the risk of one of these diseases coming on to a farm may seem remote, excellent biosecurity and surveillance by farmers is the industry’s best protection.

If anyone see anything suspicious, such as skin lumps, blisters in the feet, mouth or on the teats, and fevers, lameness, drooling, sudden drops in milk production, sudden death in calves, they should speak to their vet, government vet, or contact the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888. Finding the disease early gives us the best chance of eradication.

Good biosecurity practices are also vital to reduce the spread of diseases. Keeping track of visitors and conducting staff and visitor risk assessments, maintaining traceability obligations under the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS), keeping tanker tracks clear of mud and manure, and ensuring gear used on multiple farms (e.g. veterinary equipment) is cleaned and disinfected after every use is a good starting place in preventing any disease spread.

Bega’s Better Farms Program supports eligible dairy farmers’ by offering up to $1.1 million worth of financial grants each year.

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