Testing for the national Cattle Market Assurance Program (CattleMAP) has been suspended until November as an evaluation of the program is completed.
Animal Health Australia announced the suspension of testing and evaluation today, which it says is a key step in the implementation of the recently released Bovine Johne’s Disease Framework (more on the framework below).
The CattleMAP is a national Market Assurance Program designed to allow cattle producers to undertake voluntary testing of their herds in order to provide an assurance to their customers as to the bovine Johne’s disease (BJD) status of their cattle.
Participating herds must adhere to management and testing plans developed with authorised veterinarians and monitored by external auditors to underpin their tested status.
Depending on the length of time that herds have participated in the program, and the length of time between tests, herds are ranked from MN (Monitored Negative) 1, MN 2 or MN 3, with MN3 being the highest level of assurance.
However, the credibility of the program has been affected by issues surrounding accuracy of testing procedures and difficulties in managing the disease given its potential to exist in the natural environment and in animals other than cattle.
There has been a gradual reduction in the number of herds undertaking testing in recent years. AHA figures show that the number of accredited producers participating in the CattleMAP has fallen from 567 across Australia in June 2012 to 346 in March 2016.
The AHA says CattleMAP allows producers to assess the risk of introducing Johne’s disease from other herds, and allows producers to access markets that might not otherwise be available to that producer.
“The review will take place over the coming months and involves consultation with a number of producers still in the CattleMAP, as well as some who have recently left,” AHA’s Executive Manager of Biosecurity Services Duncan Rowland said.
“Identified producers will have the opportunity to state what they feel has worked well within the CattleMAP and what areas need improvement.”
During this evaluation period it has been agreed that the testing requirement for CattleMAP will be suspended until 1 November 2016.
“Although suspension of testing is in place, it’s imperative that producers continue to maintain their biosecurity plans and undergo veterinary reviews during this evaluation process – robust biosecurity practices are vital in this new deregulated environment.
The BJD Steering Committee will implement the recommendations identified, at the conclusion of the CattleMAP evaluation period.
Additional steps still to take place in the BJD Framework implementation process include:
- the deregulation and removal of zoning, which will occur as the state governments implement the new Framework;
- the completion of tools and resources (such as biosecurity checklists, a risk profiling tool and cooperative biosecurity guidelines) to assist producers reduce the prevalence of production diseases and improve the management of these diseases
- the enhancement of the existing National Cattle Health Statement
- the hosting of two public forums, to meet with producers and address any questions they may have.
“As with all the changes stemming from the implementation of the new national BJD Framework, AHA will continue to update and inform Australian producers throughout the reform process,” Mr Rowland said.
BJD FRAMEWORK SUMMARY
AHA has provided the following background on the BJD Framework Summary:
JD in cattle is endemic in some cattle production areas of Australia but in other areas the disease is not known to exist (or exists at a low to very low level).
The need for a different approach
The review identified there was a groundswell of support for JD to be dealt with differently from the way in which it has been over the past 12 years. There was general support for JD to be addressed under a common biosecurity approach for endemic diseases, with less emphasis placed on an individual disease. It was not appropriate for the existing strategic plan to continue in its current state. Through an extensive consultative process a revised plan has been developed for implementation in early 2016. This has been a collaborative effort of industry and governments.
The plan has been prepared by the Australian cattle industries (Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Live Exporters’ Council, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders’ Association and Cattle Council of Australia) in conjunction with the Australian Veterinary Association, Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia and the Australian, State & Territory Governments after extensive consultation with Australian cattle producers and interested stakeholders.
The objectives of the recast Management Strategy for JD in cattle are to:
- manage and reduce the impact of clinical Johne’s disease
- provide tools to allow individual producers to manage the spread of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis infection in accordance with their business requirements.
The review process
In early 2015, at the request of the BJD Steering Committee1 and the Animal Health Committee, AHA commenced the coordination of the BJD Review process. The review process allowed for all parties (including industry, government and community) to provide input into how Australia was going to manage BJD into the future. The process allowed for a wide range of views to be considered and broad consultation to take place.
BJD Steering Committee
The committee comprises the Australian cattle industries (Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, and Cattle Council of Australia) in conjunction with the Goat Industry Council of Australia, Meat & Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia and Animal Health Committee.