BIOSECURITY TALK: More than 350 farmers attended a public meeting at the Kingaroy Town Hall .
BIOSECURITY TALK: More than 350 farmers attended a public meeting at the Kingaroy Town Hall . Michael Nolan

Get your papers in order

THERE were few empty seats at the Kingaroy Town Hall on September 6 as more than 350 South Burnett graziers piled in for a public meeting.

They turned up to hear Elders livestock manager Paul Holm explain the new biosecurity requirements.

After the three-hour meeting the consensus was that the new system would provide accountability throughout the beef supply chain.

Farmers have to download a biosecurity check list and self-audit their property.

This paper work will be stored on-farm and referred to when booking cattle for sale in yards across the state.

It records what pests, parasites, diseases and chemicals cattle have come into contact with so buyers can make informed decisions.

In the event of disease outbreak the system will give authorities more certainty when tracking how many cattle have come into contact with an illness.

While it's new to the beef and dairy industry, it is something to which pig and poultry farmers are already accustomed.

Dangor Mountain grazier Murray Lord said this sort ofarrangement was inevitable.

"Everywhere down along the line these days, everyone has to be accountable for food safety and every part of the industry, from processors to the producers, has got to be accountable,” Mr Lord said.

"I think this is probably the producers' turn to be accountable for food safety, animal health and biosecurity.

"People are interested in biosecurity at the moment and I think this is probably a responsible way of showing that the producers are doing the right thing.”

Most items on the list are already common practice for Queensland graziers.

Take, for example, putting newly purchased cattle in the holding pen before moving them out to pasture.

This gives time for any weed seeds lodged in a beast's hooves and hide to fall away and not spread through the open pasture.

Other items ask if stock feed in storage is safe from contamination by feral and farm animals or that all vehicle entry points are monitored.

These practices are common place on many farms but the new measures formalise the requirements.

"It's another level of red tape for us but with a small amount of effort we can do our part for accountability,” Mr Lord said.

"Consumers want to know that right from the start of the food chain cattle are treated ethically and the food they are eating is produced in a healthy environment.

"You need the paper trail to the prove that.”

The system specifically targets bovine Johne's disease.

Each farm will be assigned a Johne's Beef Assurance Score.

This score will be made available to buyers when bidding on cattle, much like the buyers are told about a beast's exposure to ticks.

While it's common in Australian southern states, there are very few cases in Queensland.

Every beef farm in Queensland automatically registers as J-BAS 6 and they stay at this level until the disease appears on their farm.

While the new process is voluntary in theory, the paperwork has been linked to the National Vendor Declaration forms.

By default this makes the process compulsory as buyers, both large and small, might not want to risk purchasing undocumented cattle.

"Everyone as a producer has got to do their bit and it ensures your market,” Mr Lord said.

"We sell weaners straight off the cow and I need to know that a full panel of buyers will be bidding on those cattle.”

For more information visit www.daf.qld.gov.au.