Sunday, May 26, 2024

Southern Grampians seeks clarity on FMD readiness

Southern Grampians Shire Council has written to the Federal and State Governments seeking clarity on Australia’s border protection and readiness for an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

In letters to Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt and Minister for Agriculture, Training and Skills and Higher Education, Gayle Tierney, Acting Mayor, Councillor David Robertson explained the Shire’s position as one of the densest populations of broadacre livestock farming in the world, with more than one million lambs, 2.3 million sheep and 120,000 head of beef cattle.

“We proudly stand, regionally, as Australia’s number one area for agricultural gross value production,” said Cr Robertson.

“Furthermore, the Council owned, and operated, Hamilton Regional Livestock Exchange is one of the largest saleyards in Australia based on annual throughput numbers.

“The protection of this regional industry is paramount to not only the wellbeing of our community, but also the health of our national economy,” he said.

Cr Robertson said recent reports of FMD in Bali had created considerable anxiety in the community.

“I understand there is in the vicinity of 260 flights a week between Australia and Bali, which, together with trade and other movements, represents a concerning opportunity for the disease to spread to Australia, the consequences of which, as I am sure you will appreciate, would be catastrophic,” Cr Robertson’s letter to the Ministers states.

“We write on behalf of our community seeking clarity on several points relating to our border protection and readiness for an outbreak of FMD in Australia.”

The Acting Mayor requested a response to the following questions:

  • Can you provide details of the on-the-ground response; roles and responsibilities of all levels of government, farmers and industry bodies in the event of FMD entering Australia?
  • Are you confident that, in the event of an outbreak, Governments in Australia will be able to work cooperatively and quickly to support farmers?
  • Have any preplanning or preliminary discussions been held with State and Territory Governments, and Industry representatives that would assist a quick financial response in the event of an outbreak?
  • Are the bureaucratic resources and processes needed to implement the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) in place across state and federal government?

The EADRA sets out a cost sharing arrangement between Industry and Federal, State and Territory Governments regarding compensation in the event of an emergency disease outbreak. FMD is categorised as a Category 2 disease, meaning Government will fund only 80% of the cost sharing, including salaries and wages, operating expenses, capital costs and compensation.

A Category 2 disease acknowledges FMD could cause “major national socio-economic consequences through very serious international trade losses, national market disruptions and very severe production losses in the livestock industries that are involved”. On this basis, Council has asked the Federal Government to consider that Government agencies should be responsible for 100% of the cost of this disease in the event of an outbreak.

“This current situation reinforces the vital need for all levels of government to work together and to have clarity on the plan in place to protect Australia. We look forward to the Federal Government response and stand ready to support them in any way we can on this matter,” Cr Robertson’s letter concludes.

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