• Loddon Herald

FMD taskforce established

The State Government has announced a taskforce for emergency animal disease (EAD) such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The Government said it will establish an Emergency Animal Disease Taskforce to begin planning for a rapid response if an outbreak were to occur in Victoria.

The plan will focus on bolstering the workforce of Agriculture Victoria to manage the potential social, economic and environmental threat of FMD.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by Agriculture Victoria Chief Executive Officer Matt Lowe and the Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp, in line with the State Emergency Management Plan, taking advice from Victoria Chief Vet Graeme Cooke.

The Government is working in partnership with the Commonwealth, doing everything it can to keep Australia FMD-free and more than 300 dedicated Agriculture Victoria biosecurity staff are currently undertaking FMD-specific training, scenario planning, and emergency exercises.

Victoria is also the only jurisdiction to have a mandatory electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats, supporting rapid traceability, which is critical in a livestock biosecurity response.

On average there are 10.5 million sheep tags purchased by Victorian producers per year and Victorian cattle producers purchase 2.5 million cattle tags per year.

The most significant risk of entry of FMD into Australia is through illegal meat and dairy products infected with the FMD virus being fed to pigs.

Biosecurity measures on farms are commonplace in Victoria, and Agriculture Victoria will continue to support farmers and ensure appropriate individual plans are in place.

For more information about FMD, its signs and actions to reduce its spread as well as what to do if you suspect it visit the Agriculture Victoria website – agriculture.vic.gov.au/fmd.

Minister for Agriculture Gayle Tierney said: “Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and we all need to help protect our agriculture, our economy and our unique natural environment.”

“Risk assessment and preparedness is key in ensuring we’re best placed to respond if there is a positive detection in livestock in Victoria – and we’re doing the work now to protect our industry.”

Victoria's chief vet Dr Graeme Cooke said:“Foot-and-mouth disease is not yet in Australia – and we all need to keep it that way by having robust measures protecting Australia’s border – however it is necessary to have plans in place which continue to be worked on in case they are ever needed.”




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