Market disruption concerns trigger further Johne’s rule changes

James Nason, 15/06/2017

The potential for disruption to cattle markets from July 1 has led to an easing of the forthcoming national Johne’s Disease management rules this week.

While this will not mean an extension to any deadline, Cattle Council of Australia says the move will provide much-needed breathing space for producers and others to understand what is required and will allow greater alignment between the recently announced LPA changes from 1 October and the Johne’s Disease (JD) management program itself.

From July 1, any producer without an on-farm biosecurity plan was due to fall from the current default Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) of seven (7) to the lowest Johne’s assurance score of zero (0).

With many producers yet to complete an on-farm biosecurity plan, concerns have been building in recent weeks that the policy will dramatically impact on cattle markets on July 1, because buyers will be reluctant to bid on any cattle sold under the lowest J-BAS 0 score after that date.

The Cattle Council of Australia board held an urgent meeting to address these concerns earlier this week, and decided to lift the national JBAS default position from July 1 from J-BAS zero (0) to JBAS six (6), meaning cattle trading should continue unaffected.

Producers will still be urged to complete an on-farm biosecurity plan as soon as they can.

Underpinning this decision was the fact that all Australian cattle producers will definitely be required to have on-farm biosecurity plan in place by October 1, under recently announced changes to Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) (see earlier Beef Central article here).

How do producers complete an on-farm biosecurity plan?

The process involves going online to this link and downloading, printing and filling out the seven-page, self-assessable on-farm property biosecurity plan template. (People without adequate internet access can contact officers listed at the bottom of this page to have the form mailed to them)

Will producers need to fill out two on-farm biosecurity plans – one for the purpose of satisfying Johne’s Assurance requirements, and another to satisfy LPA requirements?

Cattle Council of Australia biosecurity advisor Justin Toohey told Beef Central that it is understood only one on-farm plan will have to be completed – the plan producers complete for Johne’s assurance purposes, which will involve answering the optional section on JD, will also satisfy their requirements for LPA accreditation from October 1.

Mr Toohey said several organisations such as Elders, Landmark and Livestock Biosecurity Network had worked very hard to get producers to complete an on-farm biosecurity plan by June 30, and said producers were still being actively encouraged to complete the plan by that date

The Australian Registered Cattle Breeder’s Association has sent advice to its members this morning answering two further key questions producers may have about creating an on-farm biosecurity plan:

Do I need to send my Farm Biosecurity Plan anywhere?

You do not need to send your Farm Biosecurity Plan anywhere. It should be carefully filed so that it can be produced in either of the following situations:

  1. If you have declared on a National Cattle Health Declaration that your herd is J-BAS 6, 7 or 8, a potential purchaser could ask to see your Farm Biosecurity Plan to be assured that your Biosecurity Plan for Johne’s Disease minimises the risk of infection of your herd with Johne’s Disease.
  2. LPA conducts random audits. From 1 January 2018if you are audited for LPA compliance the auditor will ask to see your Farm Biosecurity Plan.

Do I need a veterinarian to sign my Farm Biosecurity Plan which includes a Johne’s module and will I have to test my herd for Johne’s Disease?

  • If you decide to drop to J-BAS 6 assurance level you do not need a veterinarian to sign off on your Biosecurity Plan and you are not required to conduct any testing of your herd for Johne’s Disease.
  • If you wish to maintain a J-BAS 7 assurance level you are required to have a veterinarian to sign off on your on Farm Biosecurity Plan and review it annually and you will be required to conduct the first Triennial Check Test (up to 50 animals) by 30 June 2018. Note that for a Qld herd wishing to maintain access for cattle to WA an annual Check Test is required.
  • If you wish to maintain a J-BAS 8 assurance level (WA herds and former Market Assurance Program herds) you will be required to have a veterinarian sign your Farm Biosecurity Plan and review it annually and you will be required to conduct the first Triennial Check Test by 30 June 2018. Note that for access of cattle to WA from NSW, Vic, SA and TAS there are additional requirements to J-BAS 8. From NSW and SA two clear Sample Tests (up to 300 head) must have been conducted two years apart (equivalent to the former MN2) and from Vic and Tas three Sample Tests over four years must have been conducted (equivalent to the former MN3)

Animal Health Australia released the following statement advising producers about the forthcoming Johne’s rule changes: 

Biosecurity focus the way of the future for livestock producers

The voluntary Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) has been developed to assist beef cattle producers in identifying the risk of Johne’s disease (JD) occurring in a herd.

Transitional arrangements for J-BAS end on 1 July 2017 and cattle producers across Australia are urged to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan in order to maintain their current J-BAS. J-BAS is managed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) on behalf of the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), who represent the industry.

In an important update for producers, herds with a transition score of J-BAS 7 or 8 will revert to a J-BAS 6 rather than J-BAS 0, if no on-farm biosecurity plan is in place by 1 July 2017.

“CCA have taken on-board feedback and altered the J-BAS score to alleviate producer concerns regarding loss of domestic market sales. This doesn’t change the focus of the new direction – cattle producers are still encouraged to treat JD as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business,” says Dr Rob Barwell, Acting Executive Manager Biosecurity and Product Integrity Services at AHA.

“We’d like to acknowledge all livestock stakeholders, including agents, for their excellent work in spreading the on-farm biosecurity message to Australian cattle producers – a message we’re keen for all invested parties to continue sharing.

“It’s important to remember that key to this new framework is the implementation of robust biosecurity practices; practices which will safeguard the profitability of the cattle producer,” says Dr Barwell.

To assist producers with developing their biosecurity plans, AHA has updated its Farm Biosecurity Plan page to include a range of biosecurity planning resources. The same on-farm planning template can be used for the Livestock Production Assurance program and J-BAS, with producers who have a JD focus required to complete the optional JD questions.

As the Australian cattle industry finalises the transition to a new framework for managing JD, producers are encouraged to implement their on-farm biosecurity plans.

The Cattle Council of Australia has issued the following point-by-point explanation of new Johne’s management arrangements post July 1:

 The Cattle Council of Australia is alerting producers to key changes in the transitional dates of on-farm biosecurity planning.

  • New biosecurity laws have shifted many of the costs and responsibilities for managing pests and diseases on to producers.
  • As part of this transition, producers are now responsible for implementing on-farm biosecurity plans.
  • A biosecurity plan will be required for producers to gain or renew their Livestock Production Assurance (LPA)accreditation from 1st October 2017.
  • In parallel, a new national biosecurity management approach to Johne’s Disease (JD) in cattle has been developed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) and the Cattle Council of Australia.
  • The new approach to JD management in beef cattle has seen most states remove regulations.
  • To assist cattle producers take responsibility for managing their on-farm risks, an important tool, called the Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS), has been developed.
  • An on-farm biosecurity plan is also required for J-BAS.
  • The same on-farm planning template will be used for LPA and J-BAS, with producers who have a focus on JD being required to complete the optional questions on JD.
  • The J-BAS system works on a set of scores measured off a producer’s previous exposure to JD and their preparedness in managing their risk.  An outline of the score system can be found at:
  • The Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA) have legislated minimum J-BAS entry requirements that include a biosecurity plan and, in the case of WA, herd testing.
  • To maintain J-BAS 7, producers must have a biosecurity plan overseen and signed by a vet by 1st July 2017and have undertaken a ‘check test’ (50 samples) with clear results by 1st July 2018, or they automatically move to a J-BAS 6.
  • The default position for any producer will be J-BAS 6 unless they have prior JD infection in the last 5 years, in which case they should then self-assess as per the J-BAS criteria.
  • Cattle travelling to Western Australia will need to be J-BAS 7 or 8, and meet other entry requirements as set out in the health certificate for movement of stock to Western Australia (LB1 form).
  • Cattle travelling to the NT from 1 July 2017 will need to be J-BAS 6 and accompanied by a Cattle Health Declaration from the property of origin.There is no need for vet endorsement or testing.  National Cattle Health Declaration form:
  • It is recommended that for any cattle transaction within the production system, a National Cattle Health Declaration should be supplied by the vendor and requested by the buyer (cattle being sent direct to slaughter may not require this).

Further information:

Livestock Production Assurance program

LPA information can be found at:

Johne’s Beef Assurance Score

J-BAS information can be found at:

On-farm biosecurity templates

The following link provides a biosecurity plan template that can be used to develop an on-farm biosecurity plan that will meet the requirements of LPA (therefore automatically, J-BAS provided the JD section is completed):):

About Cattle Council of Australia (CCA)

CCA is the prescribed Peak Industry Council for the Australian Cattle Industry.  It represents all Australian cattle producers to formulate policy and advocate for the betterment of the industry.

About Animal Health Australia (AHA)

AHA works in partnership with the Cattle Council of Australia and its members to keep Australia free of new and emerging diseases and to improve animal health, enhance market access and foster resilience and integrity of the Australian animal health system.

About Livestock Production Assurance (LPA)

The LPA program is the Australian livestock industry’s on-farm assurance program covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity.  It provides evidence of livestock history and on-farm practices when transferring livestock through the value chain.

Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS)

J-BAS is a risk profiling tool developed for use in the new approach to Johne’s Disease (JD) in beef cattle (otherwise known as BJD).  It is meant to be used as a guide and producers should ask further questions about JD in the herd and on the property, rather than rely on the score alone.

For further details contact Cattle Council of Australia on or 02 6269 5600

People without internet access can call a Livestock Biosecurity Network Officer to have a on-farm biosecurity plan form sent to their address:

  • NSW: Rachel Gordon – M: 0488 400 207,
  • VIC, SA, Tas: Patrick Kluver – M: 0499 077 213,
  • QLD: Rachael O’Brien – M: 0418 7224 61,
  • WA: Frances Gartrell – M: 0497 700 113


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  1. Louisa Dunn, 22/06/2017

    As the newest in-law to the farm and being the only one who uses computers, I am really very frustrated that nothing has been disseminated by paper. My parent-in-laws are computer illiterate. They don’t use a computer. I can’t even print out you article for them, rather have to drag the computer to them or have this come to our place. It is the same with all of the biosecurity information. Any farmer who has no computer will know very little to nothing about this. Not all farmers are VFF members or have computers. Authorities and organisations need to think about them too. It will be a very sad day, if this farm, which is five generations young suffers because of modern ideals of a paperless society.

  2. Eion John Allister, 18/06/2017

    Interesting how the history of a lot of these things is lost over time. Thank you for filling in some gaps for me re the evolution of the peak bodies. I am a relative newcomer to the beef industry having been involved for only 15 years so there is a lot of background that isn’t shared easily. I wholeheartedly agree with the points you make re the purpose of changes to Biosecurity Policies and the new legislative frameworks which are supporting them. Government is clearly wanting to only focus upon using its staff and resources to work in compliance roles where they can operate at relatively low personnel levels and therefore cost.. This strategy only works if you shift the focus of the responsibility for everything back to the producer. I fear you are correct in your assessments. Governments therefore must have a system where there is a recorded mechanism to be able to utilise for their compliance programs. If your plan isn’t good enough then it is even easier for them to point the finger in your direction. Oh by the way I wonder where the Dexa story went from the Beef Central page? Some critical feedback and it has gone away. Dissapointing.

    Thanks for your comment, Eion. If we understand your comment correctly, you are suggesting we have removed an article about DEXA from the Beef Central website due to some ‘critical feedback.’ That hasn’t happened. No such article has been removed. It may simply be harder to find, having slipped down the featured articles list, given our high level of daily output. Any articles about DEXA, since the word first arose in a presentation by MLA’s Alex Ball in late 2014, can be found using Beef Central’s search function. Look for the ‘News finder’ tag in the drop-down menu in the news section. Editor

  3. Rod Dunbar - Director - United Stockowners of Australia, 16/06/2017

    I agree totally with John Gunthorpe; there are however a few matters I wish to add.
    First and foremost CCA and their affiliates, staff and AHA etc.. are not merely benign private entities as they may want us all to believe; they are actually federal public servants attached to the federal Dept of Ag; they have been appointed by the Governor General in the regulations of the AMLI Act, and have had that distinction since 1997.
    As such they have no intention of implementing any “Biosecurity Fund” and what’s more the notion currently being pressed in this article; that each enterprise needs to have its own private Quarantine plan (biosecurity plan) is simply a legal method of transferring the legal responsibility for all future disease outbreaks directly back to the individual producer.

    It will be enforced by MLA under LPA; the Northern Territory Government has already advised us of that fact, from 1st October they say.

    So LPA will simply say if a disease is discovered on your “PIC” it’s your fault, your Quarantine Plan failed and you must be destroyed financially because it “is for the good of the industry as a whole” like they did for JD.

    The federal government cannot control animal diseases apparently; the fact is the JD that appeared near Rockhampton was a Bison derivative which AQIS negligently failed to identify in imported material; but the federal authority including CCA made the effected producers pay the ultimate price; it’ll be the same if Foot and Mouth is ever detected.

    Does everyone know that the Quarantine and Disease Control nationally were officially handed to RMAC/MLA/CCA by a federal Liberal Government in 1997?

    So with the JD outbreak in QLD that John has outlined it is RMAC/MLA/CCA that needs to be tarred and feathered, because they have the primary legal authority.

    The greatest threat we all face is from these unelected politically orientated “industry” groups and the faceless public servants in Canberra who not only control CCA etc… but also the politicians regardless of who fills the Treasury benches.

  4. Tom Campbell, 16/06/2017

    Agforce and the Cattle Council need to get a grip. And worry about the families that have been forced from the land from the crap they go on with .
    Families that have been forced from the land because of the BJD Quarantine that they and Mcveigh who should have had more brains forced on people
    Wonder what the founding fathers of Cattlemans Union and Rick Farley would think
    So much for every FARMER NEEDS A FAMILY not all only some

  5. Kevin de Witte, 16/06/2017

    Cattle movements to or through the NT require an NT Health Certificate / Waybill (as well as the NCHD). Search ‘Livestock’ at
    Half of the annual NT cattle turnoff goes for live export to markets that have varying requirements for JD freedom. The NT only supplies about half of this trade with the rest coming from Qld and WA.

  6. John Gunthorpe, 16/06/2017

    James has done a great job of clarifying some of the issues surrounding Johne’s disease (JD) and the complicated system developed by Justin Toohey for CCA when he promoted J-BAS as a member of the BJD review committee.

    However, it is disappointing that so much copy is dedicated to the Australian Beef Industry’s least significant disease. According to a study published by MLA, Johne’s Disease (JD) impacts the beef industry cost of production less than any other disease we face. Think about all the diseases we encounter in our business and JD has the lowest level of impact.

    J-BAS is optional when completing the National Cattle Health Declaration and unless you are moving cattle to WA then it should be ignored. In today’s market if you are moving cattle to WA find another customer and let the WA beef producer stew in their own juice. There it is clearly a protectionist policy in play in WA to ensure WA bull breeders can sell there inferior genetics to local customers.

    While on the Heath Declaration form, tick the section acknowledging that you have not had a case of JD in the last 5 years and I am sure this will be sufficient for your purchaser to accept JD is not in your herd. For those who understand JD of course it is not, but most do not and the misinformation will ensure your sale is consummated.

    It is important that we do have a biosecurity plan for our properties not for JD but for all the other disease risks we face. So as advised in James’s article fill out the form as best you can and put it in your bottom drawer waiting for the audit from LPA. It may never come.

    If CCA and AgForce are so concerned about supporting their members and other cattle producers, why is there not a Biosecurity Fund in Queensland into which the industry pays through their transaction levy and from which compensation can be paid to those impacted by disease management.

    Most of the management is for the good of the industry as a whole and not for the individual impacted. This was how Jeff Seeney explained it when adopting the Protection Zone policy for the management of JD under the last regime. He then promised compensation for the poor buggers caught up in the insidious prosecution of the policy by DAF. This never happened and some of your fellow producers went to the wall due to the extensive quarantine of their properties.

    There needs to be a Biosecurity Fund started now. For many years the Queensland Government have had a committee investigating the establishment of such a fund but nothing has been done. If it happens in other states why not Queensland. Perhaps it should be a federal fund. Frankly trying to support those families who lost their farms and suffered stress is demoralising and so unfair.

    If you want to write copy on a subject related to JD try pressing for compensation for the 200 producers who had to take the outcome of the Protection Zone Policy of the Queensland Government on the recommendation of AgForce (Howard Smith and Bim Struss) and supported by Cattle Council (Justin Toohey) and prosecuted by Animal Health Australia (Peter Milne, Kathleen Plowman and Duncan Rowland) on the chin and suffer significant financial loss and personal stress.

    John Gunthorpe
    BJD Action Coalition

  7. Pam McGregor, Kojonup WA, 16/06/2017

    Great article on the BJD/LPA situation – very clearly put. Thank you!

  8. David Guerra, 15/06/2017

    Interesting…. In direct contrast, the ABC and other media have used the term, “three-month extension to the deadline”, as included in the AgForce statement.

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