Cut through the acronyms and bureaucratic terminology in the new Johne’s rules and there is a simple, single message of which all cattle producers need to be aware.
That is that they are being urged to fill out and file a seven-page, self-assessable, on-farm biosecurity plan in the next few months.
From October 1, 2017, every beef cattle producer in Australia will need to have completed an on-farm biosecurity plan so they can remain Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accredited beyond that date, and continue to have access to a full range of buyers.
Under the new Johne’s management rules, only producers seeking to have a higher level of accreditation (ie JBAS score 7 or 8) will need to involve a veterinarian in helping them to complete their on-farm biosecurity plan.
Producers content to maintain the default national score of JBAS 6 can fill out an on-farm biosecurity plan at home on their own and file it. They do not need to send it anywhere or formally submit it (more details on the new Johne’s rules here).
Mixed views on new rules
From talks Beef Central has had in recent weeks with small and large cattle producers, stud breeders and buyers of cattle, it is clear that some see the new rules developed by Cattle Council of Australia as no big deal, while others are not happy.
“We can’t get vets to preg test cattle and now we need more vets to run the BJD program,” one large producer with properties in WA and NT commented to Beef Central.
“We have to spend money to reduce our marketing options.”
Many ask why a disease of limited economic significance (see earlier MLA report) can be allowed to have such a significant bureaucratic impact on so many producers.
And also why a large cattle producing State such as Queensland still does not have a biosecurity fund in place from which to compensate those impacted by disease management – or why such a fund is not implemented across the board Federally (a number of States currently have their own levy-funded biosecurity funds (more details in this earlier Beef Central story).
Supporters of the new arrangements say Johne’s cannot be ignored because it can cause production losses in herds in higher rainfall areas and because several important cattle export markets require freedom from Johne’s. (For example Indonesia does not require testing but does require confirmation that a property exporting cattle has had no notifiable case of Johne’s disease in the previous five years. Other markets have import protocols which require proof of Johne’s freedom through testing of breeder or feeder cattle prior to export, according to Animal Health Australia, including Japan which is attempting to eradicate Johne’s, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Russia.)
Also, the new rules mean that decisions on how to handle Johne’s will now be up to individual producers on their farms.
Remember the severe impact the owners of 177 quarantined properties endured from the Johne’s disease detection in Queensland in 2012-2013? Under the new arrangements, no quarantining will occur because regulation has been removed – the program is now market driven.
Clearly not everyone likes the new rules and lobbying efforts against them continue. Whether those efforts bring further rule changes before the key 1 October 2017 date remains to be seen.
But as the new rules currently stand, the main point producers need to be aware of is the advice to obtain by internet download, email or mail a seven-page biosecurity plan and to fill out out and file it.
Producers with good online access can download the document from this link, producers needing a plan template emailed or mailed to them can contact a Livestock Biosecurity Network officer (contact details below this article).
‘It’s no weight to carry’
Rod Turner is an experienced livestock agent with Landmark at Roma who also has a cattle property in the district.
He recently filled out the 7-page on-farm biosecurity plan for his property and said it was a relatively simple process.
“It is not a weight to carry, and who knows, a little further down the track, maybe cattle will be going out of Roma Saleyards to the Northern Territory for live export.
“They will have to have that JBAS 6 accreditation to get in there, so it is no weight to carry. You don’t have to have that vet input into it, you can do it at home.”
Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association chief executive officer Andy Madigan said the association’s view is that producers should have a biosecurity plan not only for JD, but also for the protection of their livestock and property from disease and weeds.
“As part of the enhancements of LPA producers are going to have to do a biosecurity plan,” he said.
“Some producers already have a plan on how they treat and introduce new livestock to their property for example but it’s not written down.
“A biosecurity plan just formalises what a lot are doing now.”
By doing a plan for the Johne’s program, LPA’s on-farm planning requirement from 1 October will be covered, provided one of the recommended templates is used.
Takes less time than a stubby to fill out
How hard is it to fill out the form to get a JBAS 6?
Check out this short (two minute) video from Pat Cleary and Dhugald McDowall at ECM Livestock from Moss Vale in NSW.
They reckon it should take less than two stubbies, and in fact Dhugald knocks it over in less than one.
Great use of technology to spread the word!
For people unable to download a form over the internet, call a Livestock Biosecurity Network Officer to have a on-farm biosecurity plan form sent to their address:
NSW: Rachel Gordon – 0488 400 207,
VIC, SA, Tas: Patrick Kluver – 0499 077 213,
QLD: Rachael O’Brien – 0418 7224 61,
WA: Frances Gartrell – 0497 700 113