New national approach to managing BJD released

Beef Central, 16/02/2016



The new national approach to BJD management recommends the removal of BJD zones across the country.

A long-running review of national policies for managing Bovine Johne’s Disease in Australia has recommended a deregulated approach and the removal of BJD-status zones.

The new national approach, released by Animal Health Australia this morning, favours a market-driven approach where producers decide how to manage their risk of the disease on their own farms, based on market requirements.

It will now be up to each State Government to decide whether the new national approach will apply in their respective jurisdictions, or whether state-based restrictions on BJD management will continue.

AHA executive manager of biosecurity Duncan Rowland said the new national policy framework was in the interests of Australian cattle producers.

It shifted the focus of BJD management to the wider biosecurity practice of reduction and management of all diseases.

“Throughout the consultation period, time and time again, producers talked about the significant emotional and financial stress they faced when dealing with existing BJD management regulations,” Mr Rowland said.

“So, while this new approach introduces a substantial shift in thinking, better biosecurity awareness and practices will provide a safer environment for producers to operate in.

“The new framework recognises the key role producers have in the management of diseases on their property and for that reason producers are the very cornerstone of the new approach.

“This doesn’t mean that producers now have to carry the responsibility on their own. The management of BJD will continue to be a shared responsibility between government, the industry and producers.

“In fact, the deregulation and removal of zoning will be led by the state and territory governments, with the time frame for implementation resting with them,” said Mr Rowland.

He said the successful introduction of this new approach will require substantial communication efforts to assist producers and interested stakeholders in understanding the new approach, its operation and its effects.

“A national communications plan is currently being developed to ensure all affected parties are informed, engaged and kept up‐to‐date about the changes.

“A key component of this communications plan will be a public forum, held in the coming months.

“This forum will provide the ideal opportunity to talk first‐hand with producers and address any questions they may have about the new way forward,” said Mr Rowland.

AHA will continue to work with industry and government to ensure the Framework is implemented as smoothly and quickly as possible to enhance the biosecurity credentials of Australia’s cattle industry.

The final Framework Document: BJD ‐ Where to from here? A Fresh Approach to the Management of Johne’s Disease in Cattle: Management Plan for Cattle Production Conditions is available here

Animal Health Australia has also provided the following background details with the new framework document this morning:



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).

A review of the National BJD Strategic Plan 2012‐20, undertaken during 2015, included a thorough consultation process to evaluate the plan and make a decision on future national management arrangements.

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.

Fundamental objectives

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.

Major changes:

  • Removal of zoning.
  • Reliance on producers to protect themselves from disease (a biosecurity approach).
  • A market driven approach where producers undertake practices dependant on market requirements.
  • An evaluation of the CattleMAP.
  • Development of tools and education material (e.g. Cattle Health Declaration, use of vaccination material).

The review process

In early 2015, at the request of the BJD Steering Committee 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:

  • AHA engaged an independent facilitator to manage the consultation process.
  • National Forum held in February 2015 – open to all interested parties.
  • Think Tank held in February 2015 and attended by industry and government personnel (the Reference Panel ) to consider feedback from the National Forum and finalise the review process.
  • First public consultation period ‐submissions from community, industry and government on proposed way forward.
  • Review of submissions undertaken.
  • Second public consultation period ‐submissions from community, industry and government on second draft of way forward.
  • The Framework noted by Animal Health Committee and endorsed by the National BJD Review Steering Committee.
  • The Framework made public.
  • Implementation.

1 BJD Steering Committee: 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.

2 Reference Panel participants: 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

Source: Animal Health Australia


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  1. Wallace Gunthorpe, 16/02/2016

    I endorse what John has just written.
    This has been a long hard fought battle for common sense.
    A great example of the underdog coming out on top ! If AgForce is to salvage any credibility out of this debacle driven by their bad policy they should not rest until a bio security fund is established to pay compensation to affected producers.
    There you go Bim Struss,over to you !
    See if you and AgForce can deliver ?
    The release of this National BJD review shows how wide of the mark the Finlay/Hill review was under McVeigh !

  2. John Gunthorpe, 16/02/2016

    It is the right result but in the end it cost too much and took too long. Entrusting the management to bovine Johne’s disease to cattle producers is the right way to go but we have been asking for it for 3 years.

    QDAFF, AgForce and Cattle Council enforced the Protection Zone Policy sending cattle producers into bankruptcy for being “suspect” BJD. Tens of millions of dollars were wasted on this technically impossible attempt to eradicate BJD. They were wrong and with this media release they have been proved to be wrong.

    All those who suffered loss under this regime need compensation and it is up to industry to dispense it. The Queensland Government needs to start the much heralded Biosecurity Fund by taking a small share of all beef sales and then distribute it to those who suffered “for the good of the industry”.

    The human cost can never be repaired. Communities and individuals suffered stress from the pressure of pending financial ruin and failure and all through no fault of their own. QDAFF officers suffered when asked to deliver the quarantine notices. Uncertainty was central to the plan’s implementation and human misery the result. Yet we still have properties in quarantine. We call on Queensland’s Chief Veterinary Officer to release immediately all properties still under notices of quarantine.

    This was the darkest period of Queensland’s beef industry history and the damage caused needs to be addressed.

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