Biosecurity has been a topic of discussion over recent months, especially with Varroa Mite and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
The Hon Murray Watt, MP, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and Minister for Emergency Management said Australia was fortunate to have a strong biosecurity system.
“Obviously, there is a range of diseases which are endemic around the world that we don’t have here, and that's testament to really strong biosecurity systems that we have in place, but it’s also a testament to the work that farmers in rural communities do as well.”
The Hon Dugald Saunders, MP, NSW Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW said preparedness was key.
“You need to do everything you can to remain ahead of the game,” Mr Saunders said.
“We want every landowner to be alert. We do not want to alarm people overseas because we do not have Foot and Mouth in Australia. That’s a very clear message - we do not have it here.
“The fear is if the level escalates too much then people will just stop the market straight away and we have 70 per cent of our meat go overseas. It’s a huge value part of our economy for large-scale producers and exporters. We need to be assuring and reassuring our partners that we are a safe country and they can continue to trust us. We do need to be alert, not alarmed.”
President of the National Farmers Federation, Fiona Simpson said biosecurity often existed in the background, but it was at the forefront of farmers’ minds.
“We have biosecurity plans,” Ms Simpson said, “It’s a shared responsibility: Federal, State, and landholders.”
Ms Simpson said that hearing of an outbreak of FMD, especially with a really close neighbour, would strike real fear in people.
“People have seen what happens in other countries,” she said, “They saw those graphic scenes in the UK in that very big outbreak and they want to make sure quite rightly that we’re as prepared as we possibly can. If we haven’t had it for 120 years, how do we know what’s going to happen if we do?”
Ms Simpson said that sniffer dogs might sound a little frivolous at times, but those dogs pick up the things we see on Border Patrol. “Have confidence that we have one of the best biosecurity systems in the world,” she said, “Make sure your own systems are up to date, too.”
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