May 10, 2013


Australia and New Zealand work together for defence against foot and mouth disease


joint media release


A new action plan between Australia and New Zealand will strengthen defences against the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).


Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, and New Zealand's Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, announced the two countries will work more closely for combined defences against the threat of FMD.


"FMD poses one of the single greatest threats to livestock industries and rural communities in New Zealand and Australia. We've estimated that a large outbreak would cost Australia $AUD16 billion (US$16.08 billion) to control," Ludwig said.


"Australia has successfully kept FMD out of the country for more than 130 years. Our countries have committed to work together to develop a trans-Tasman FMD Action Plan to improve preparedness. Collaborative government action will help ensure we are both adequately prepared for this disease."


Guy said both countries were extremely aware of the importance of preparing for the threat, given the importance of the agricultural sector to both economies. "This work will build on the strong relationship we already have through years of working together on animal health and biosecurity issues," Guy said, "it reflects an on-going commitment to improving our knowledge and preparedness."


Key activities under the joint plan include: sharing intelligence on emerging animal health risks facing the region; developing and improving training activities and FMD detection capabilities, including training in exotic animal disease recognition and participating in joint exercises; sharing and comparing economic and disease models of FMD to inform management strategies; collaborating on policy development, approaches and operational plans for vaccination and carcass disposal; and participating in simulation exercises to explore how to support response efforts in the event of an incursion.


"While both countries will work towards a coordinated action plan, the best strategy is to not let FMD ever get into either country in the first place," Guy said, "prevention remains the first priority for both countries through our world class biosecurity systems. New Zealand is fortunate to have never had an outbreak but we must always be prepared."


Ludwig agreed saying early detection was essential to reduce the potential impact of this disease. "FMD has been able to establish and spread in a wide range of environmental and production systems around the world. So vigilance and preparedness are essential safeguards to protecting Australia and New Zealand's valuable primary industries," Ludwig said.

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