July 21, 2022

Meat council urges end to wild claims affecting Australia's response against animal diseases


Australia's Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) is calling for an end to "hysterical" claims about food supply, industry compensation and other exotic animal disease issues, which "only seek to instil fear rather than any genuine attempt to assist in strengthen Australia's response".

"The red meat and livestock industry is united in our commitment to continue to work with the Australian government on the prevention of an incursion of emergency animal diseases in Australia," RMAC independent chair John McKillop said.

RMAC and its members, the Australian Livestock Exporters' Council, Australian Lot Feeders Association, Australian Meat Industry Council, Cattle Council of Australia, Goat Industry Council of Australia and the Sheep Producers Australia, represent the entire red meat and livestock supply chain from paddock to plate.

"We have been contributing to and supporting the federal and state governments' response to the preparatory work on foot and mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) management since the incursions in Indonesia were reported," McKillop said. "This is the time to work collaboratively, and we ask for an end to some of the hysterical claims about food supply, industry compensation and other exotic animal disease issues that only seek to instil fear rather than any genuine attempt to assist in strengthen Australia's response.

"FMD is prevalent in many countries worldwide, not just in Indonesia. RMAC and members are supportive of the Australian government's measured response and for the continued assistance offered to our neighbours in Indonesia and keeping trade and travel open. It is our expectation that Australia's responses to the risks posed by both FMD and LSD would be approached in a bipartisan manner.

"The rapid and reliable traceability of livestock plays a significant part in any emergency animal disease response. The faster animals are traced, the greater the ability to control a disease outbreak and minimise its economic and social impacts. The fact that the Australian red meat and livestock industry has investment hundreds of millions of the dollars into traceability gives us the ability to assure consumers that even if there is an FMD or LSD outbreak in Australia, we will be able to isolate the farm or region and continue to supply high quality product from the rest of Australia.

"The red meat and livestock industry supports meaningful traceability reforms to further strengthen traceability for biosecurity, food safety and emergency response purposes and for supporting market access requirements.

"The red meat and livestock industry therefore seeks the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's support for the urgent implementation of these reforms to improve detection and management of exotic animal disease.

"Australia is currently free of FMD and LSD, and it is important our industry does not take this disease-free status for granted. Protecting Australia from exotic disease incursion will take cooperation and commitment from everyone.

"The risk to Australia remains low; however, if an exotic disease outbreak were to occur, arrangements and plans developed by industry and government are in place to allow for a rapid nationally coordinated response, including cost-sharing and compensation.

"Producers should focus on preparing for an incursion, just in case, by ensuring their on-farm biosecurity plans are complete and in place to protect their livestock and livelihoods. Travelers returning to Australia from a country with FMD, including Indonesia, should ensure they follow all biosecurity requirements."

- Beef Central

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