Farmers must do their part

9th August 2017 3:34 PM
Queensland Dairy Organisation President Brian Tessmann with DAF's chief vet Lawrence Gavey. BIOSECURITY: Queensland Dairy Organisation President Brian Tessmann with DAF's Principal Veterinary Officer Lawrence Gavey. Michael Nolan

CHANGES to farm biosecurity laws last year shifted the responsibility for tracking disease from the government to individual farmers.

As of July 2016 farmers need to make the effort to trace what diseases and pests stock moving onto their property has been in contact with.

To help navigate this process the Queensland Dairy Organisation held a workshop in Kingaroy on Tuesday, August 8.

At the session, dairy farmers worked through a biosecurity plan with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries' principal veterinary officer Lawrence Garvey.

He said farmers needed to think about pests, diseases and weeds that could potentially affect their operation and plan accordingly.

The State Government introduced a new scoring system for Bovine Johnes Disease to rate properties and the cattle they hold.

Based on their history of exposure to the disease the system gives dairy farms a score from one to eight.

Beef operations receive a different score from one to five.

Given Queensland is mostly free of Johnes Disease, all our farms are automatically rated at the highest score.

QDO president Brian Tessmann said the new regime took the responsibility off the government from tracking infected cattle at the border and put it on the farmers who needed to make these enquires before they bought stock.

"It's 'buyer beware' type of thing,” Mr Tessmann said.

There are significant populations of Johnes disease-infected cattle on the other side of the New South Wales border that are worrying to dairy producers.

While Johnes Disease is a concern for all beef producers the milk for infected dairy cattle cannot be sold in supermarkets.

Beef cattle on the other hand can maintain productivity after contact with the disease.

"There has always been a lot of concern in the dairy industry about Johnes and we wanted to maintain the old regulations but the beef industry took a position to reduce the regulation and that position has become law,” Mr Tessmann said.

The rules around moving cattle across the tick-line haven't changed as much.

Mr Tessmann said the new regime for disease was very much an opt-in process.

"We would have preferred the government to be more involved, but we as an industry have got to step up, farmers have got to step up and try and be as effective as before and hopefully better,” Mr Tessmann said.