BJD in focus at Rockhampton forum

James Nason, 13/02/2013

Bovine Johne’s Disease – an issue of little consequence that should be left to farmers to manage with on-farm vaccinations, or a serious threat to herd health and export trade that should be eradicated at any cost?

The question of how to best deal with the cattle wasting disease has generated intense debate in the northern beef industry since the detection of BJD in three cattle on a Queensland cattle stud last November triggered ongoing quarantine lockdowns of more than 100 trace-forward properties.

A public forum to be held near Rockhampton on March 4 is set to give producers the opportunity to listen to experts on all sides of the debate, according to the group organising the event, the Australian Johne’s Alliance.

The alliance has been a long-time critic of eradication-focused policies, taking the position that BJD is so widespread in the global cattle industry and throughout Australia’s domestic and native animal populations that eradication efforts are futile and are likely to cause more problems for affected producers than they solve for the broader industry.

However alliance chair and forum organiser Don Lawson, a stud cattle breeder from Victoria, said the event will be aimed at providing a platform for people and experts on all sides of the debate to have their say.

“We have invited speakers who think BJD can be eradicated and those who think it should be managed by a vaccine, and producers,” Mr Lawson said.

“It will be open to the public and the media.”

Mr Lawson said invitiations have been issued to Biosecurity Queensland, AgForce, the Cattle Council of Australia, private veterinarians, live exporters and breed societies to outline their positions to the forum.

Federal minister for agriculture Joe Ludwig and opposition agriculture spokesman John Cobb have also been asked to present their positions on the issue to the forum.

The subject of compensation packages for producers affected by quarantine restrictions and livestock eradication policies is also expected to be a dominant topic of discussion. 

The forum will be modelled on a similar forum sponsored by Australian Wool Innovation on the issue of Ovine Johne’s Disease in Sydney in November last year.

Mr Lawson said the forum will have an independent chair and facilitator.

It will be held at Graeme Acton’s Paradise Lagoons facility near Rockhampton on Monday, March 4.

Mr Lawson said the final line-up of speakers was still being arranged and a program will be released when finalsed.



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