Smart biosecurity investment makes good economic sense

The famous adage “prevention is better than cure” is a cornerstone mantra when it comes to biosecurity. Not only is this approach far more cost effective for our agricultural industry and the broader community, it enhances this country’s reputation as a clean, green exporter of agricultural produce. This tried-and-true approach was enhanced by two important biosecurity initiatives announced by the Australian Government recently.

Late last year the Australian Government invested $500,000 in pro-active Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) training in Nepal – a country where FMD is endemic – and a further $100,000 for better brucellosis testing. “A large outbreak of FMD is estimated to cost Australia more than $50 billion over 10 years,” the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, pointed out. “Australia has an internationally recognised capability to deal quickly and effectively with emergency animal disease outbreaks. Training industry members in Nepal is vitally important to equip participants with the skills and experience to recognise and report FMD symptoms and ensure we can act as quickly as possible should the need ever arise in this country,” Minister Joyce said.

Australia has been free from bovine brucellosis – caused by Bovine Brucella abortus – since 1989. As a result, the Australian livestock industry has benefited from the eradication of B. abortus through increased production yields as well as the opening of export market opportunities into countries such as Indonesia. “Australia has been free from Brucella abortus for over two decades, which is essential to negotiations for our livestock exports,” Minister Joyce said.

The $100,000 will go to the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory to develop diagnostic tests that can better differentiate between Brucella abortus and Brucella suis – the latter being present in some feral pig populations in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“Development of better diagnostics represents a strategic investment in the system that underpins our agricultural productivity. It is vital that we continue to improve our ability to understand, detect and respond to pests and diseases – such as Bovine Brucella abortus – that could hurt our farmers, rural communities, agricultural productivity and the national economy,” Minister Joyce concluded.

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