Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) held a producers and agents information session at Sale last Wednesday which left many questions unanswered.
In fact, after lunch, many producers did not return after declaring all of this is too hard, and ridiculous. One producer, who declared his hand, asking many unanswered questions, rang me and said this is not credible.
Mark McGuffie, who has a large property adjoining a state park, said “no property can declare themselves as bio-secure, as wildlife cannot not be controlled”.
This whole biosecurity issue stems from the Johne’s affected stud in Queensland, but it has grown into much more. When MLA presenters were asked specific questions about what was needed, the direct answer was “do the best you can”.
Well, if MLA is going to pronounce to the world that all of Australia’s 220,000 PIC number holders, as “bio-secure”, then we have a huge problem.
The catch word used by MLA is “bio-secure”, but in simple terms, if, like many producers, you have wombats, foxes, wild goats, pigs and kangaroos entering your property, you cannot declare yourself bio-secure.
Let’s take Mark McGuffie’s case. Mr McGauffie has a state park along one long boundary of his property. His property also covers both sides of the only road leading to the state park.
During the course of the year, there are up to 50,000 4x4 vehicles, cars and bikes that use this road. There are three dairy operations which take cattle across this road, and these vehicles drive across the road, which Mr McGauffie uses as a cattle crossing. So how can he possibly declare his property as bio-secure? On top of this, there are dear, kangaroos, wombats and many other species of animals and birds, that could trigger a number of biosecurity issues.
This is not an isolated case, many producers throughout Australia would be in a similar situation. Considering this all started in Queensland, how could any pastoralist declare themselves free of wild pigs and goats? And for that matter, camels or buffalo, in some cases?
Now, taking another tack. When biosecurity was first mentioned back in June, it was to be implemented by July 1 with only two-three weeks’ notice. Producers were supposed to know, and understand the paperwork, and the implications of agreeing to it, in that short time. There is a declaration involved and when accredited, producers can put a sign out front saying this is a bio-secure property.
First, you have to jump through many hoops, and most of them are near impossible to implement such as trucks cannot enter your property before being sanitised, nor can your agent, or any visitor.
You must keep a visitors book, and even you must disinfect your car, boots, tractor, or whatever, if you have been off-farm. If a producer has only one property, this may be possible to do, albeit a real pain. If you have more than one farm then it becomes harder.
Just imagine this. You are Fonterra, Murray Goulburn, or any other milk factory, and your driver has to pick up from two or more farms in one trip. How can that driver ever meet biosecurity measures?
What will this do to the livestock industry? Sheep, goats pigs and other livestock requiring a PIC number will all be suspect in the future.