Prepare BJD biosecurity plans before June-30

June-30 deadline confusion over BJD/LPA biosecurity plans


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Tom Carroll, Denken quarantine depot (right) and David Grimson, Grimson Transports, both of Deniliquin, with heifers bound for China live export.

Tom Carroll, Denken quarantine depot (right) and David Grimson, Grimson Transports, both of Deniliquin, with heifers bound for China live export.

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To my knowledge little has been written – in southern Australia at least – about of the soon to be introduced BJD accreditation scoring system that comes into play at the end of this month.

Known as the Johne’s Beef Assurance Score or J-BAS for short, the new trading rules will require a producer wanting to maintain the highest level of accreditation (J-BAS 7 or J-BAS 8) to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan, reviewed by a registered veterinarian, with herd check tests completed every three years.

However if a producer wishes not to undertake testing or utilize a veterinary adviser to oversight their on farm biosecurity plan, they can still maintain a score of J-BAS 6 by implementing their own biosecurity plan before 30 June 2017.

But if producers elect to do nothing by June-30 deadline, their J-BAS herd score reverts to Zero which is the same status as infected and suspected herds.

And to upgrade the status of a herd from J-BAS 4 or lower a producer, after submitting a biosecurity plan, must wait for periods of two years whilst submitting the herd to ongoing surveillance testing.

Agriculture Victoria Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne said Victorian cattle producers are reminded of the need to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan by 30 June 2017 if they wish to take up the Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) or maintain their current score. 

While J-BAS is voluntary, Western Australia and Northern Territory have imposed minimum J-BAS scores of 8 and 6 respectively for cattle entering from Victoria. 

As buyers across the country may request a J-BAS score before agreeing to purchase animals, Dr Milne said the J-BAS will be of interest for anyone looking to buy or sell livestock. “Implementing a biosecurity plan now may help keep future trading options open for Victorian cattle producers”. 

For J-BAS scores of 6 or less, biosecurity plans will be developed by the cattle producer, without the need for it being overseen by an external party. For herds with a J-BAS score of 7 or 8, the plan needs to be overseen by the producer’s veterinarian.

A live export source this week hinted the BJD scoring scheme could become the “thin end of the wedge” for the future purchase of live export heifers from the southern states.

“Some importing countries have already adopted these standards, and specifications may change depending on the importer or the exporter” he said.   

“The system is voluntary system and producers can do nothing”, the APLA newsletter warned its member agents this week. “But this may stop some buyers operating on livestock that may want to live export or taken into NT or WA”, it said.

For more BJD information and a biosecurity plan template: www.animalhealthaustralia.com.au 

Update: 15/06/2017

Since committing this initial report to print publication, Council Council of Australia (CCA) has, by way of a press release dated 14 June 2017, alerted producers of key changes in the transitional dates of on-farm biosecurity planning.

CCA states (and note the bold dot point).

  • New biosecurity laws have shifted many of the costs and responsibilities for managing pests and diseases on to producers.
  • As part of this transition, producers are now responsible for implementing on-farm biosecurity plans.
  • A biosecurity plan will be required for producers to gain or renew their Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) accreditation from 1st October 2017.
  • In parallel, a new national biosecurity management approach to Johne's Disease (JD) in cattle has been developed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) and the Cattle Council of Australia.
  • The new approach to JD management in beef cattle has seen most states remove regulations.
  • To assist cattle producers take responsibility for managing their on-farm risks, an important tool, called the Johne's Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS), has been developed.
  • An on-farm biosecurity plan is also required for J-BAS. 
  • The same on-farm planning template will be used for LPA and J-BAS, with producers who have a focus on JD being required to complete the optional questions on JD.  
  • The J-BAS system works on a set of scores measured off a producer’s previous exposure to JD and their preparedness in managing their risk.
  • The Northern Territory (NT) and Western Australia (WA) have legislated minimum J-BAS entry requirements that include a biosecurity plan and, in the case of WA, herd testing.
  • Cattle travelling to Western Australia will need to be J-BAS 7 or 8, and meet other entry requirements as set out in the health certificate for movement of stock to Western Australia (LB1 form).
  • Cattle travelling to the NT from 1 July 2017 will need to be J-BAS 6 and accompanied by a Cattle Health Declaration from the property of origin. There is no need for vet endorsement or testing. 
  • To maintain J-BAS 7, producers must have a biosecurity plan overseen and signed by a vet by 1st July 2017 and have undertaken a 'check test' (50 samples) with clear results by 1st July 2018, or they automatically move to a J-BAS 6. 
  • The default position for any producer will be J-BAS 6 unless they have prior JD infection in the last 5 years, in which case they should then self-assess as per the J-BAS criteria.
  • It is recommended that for any cattle transaction within the production system, a National Cattle Health Declaration should be supplied by the vendor and requested by the buyer (cattle being sent direct to slaughter may not require this). 

Animal Health Australia (via ALPA) has also issued a press release, dated 14 June 2017, to advise changes to the initial biosecurity plan focus. Its statement said:

  • The voluntary Johne’s Beef Assurance Score (J-BAS) has been developed to assist beef cattle producers in assessing the risk of Johne’s disease (JD) occurring in a herd.
  • Transitional arrangements for J-BAS end on 1 July 2017 and cattle producers across Australia are urged to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan in order to maintain their current J-BAS. 
  • J-BAS is managed by Animal Health Australia (AHA) on behalf of the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA), who represent the industry. 
  • In an important update (14/6/17) for producers, herds with a transition score of J-BAS 7 or 8 will revert to a  J-BAS 6 rather than J-BAS 0, if no on-farm biosecurity plan is in place by 1 July 2017. 

The CCA statement also said: “CCA have taken on-board feedback and altered the J-BAS score to alleviate producer concerns regarding loss of domestic market sales. 

“This doesn’t change the focus of the new direction – cattle producers are still encouraged to treat JD as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business,” says Dr Rob Barwell, Acting Executive Manager Biosecurity and Product Integrity Services at AHA.

“We’d like to acknowledge all livestock stakeholders, including agents, for their excellent work in spreading the on-farm biosecurity message to Australian cattle producers – a message we’re keen for all invested parties to continue sharing”. 

LPA enhancements

As part of these on-farm biosecurity enhancements, LPA-accredited producers will add and agree to abide by two further new elements to the five elements already included in the LPA Rules and Standards.

The seven standard elements will now comprise:

  • assessing risks on farm
  • treating animals safely and responsibly
  • managing pasture and fodder treatments
  • preparing animals for dispatch
  • documenting livestock transactions and movements.
  • maintaining biosecurity practices
  • adhering to animal welfare practices.

Accredited producers will also need to complete regular assessments, and pay $60 every three years for their LPA accreditation. 

New online learning modules will assist to upskill producers while a further roll-out of free electronic National Vendor Declarations (eNVD) will be made.

The new enhanced LPA accreditation will begin to role out from 1 October 2017 as advised above.

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