Victorian Agriculture Minister Joe Helper has announced that the one million head Victorian dairy herd has won a 15 year battle to be declared free from the virus Enzootic Bovine Leukosis (EBL).
EBL is a viral disease of cattle that if present could limit export opportunities for Australia’s $2.9 billion a year dairy export sector.
Mr Helper said dairy herds in every Australian state had met the requirements to be provisionally free of EBL, ending a 15 year program to achieve that status.
That was a testament to the hard work and close collaboration between dairy farmers and processors, veterinary practitioners, the Department of Primary Industries and Dairy Food Safety Victoria, hew said.
The long eradication program involved regular testing of milk from dairy herds and culling of infected animals.
“Freedom from EBL will provide a marketing advantage for dairy produce sold internationally and further demonstrates the high animal health and welfare status of Victorian dairy cattle and their products,” he said.
“It will put Australia on a level playing field with New Zealand and Europe in the wider pursuit of new and established markets.
A concerted nationwide push during the past 18 months had achieved “provisionally free” status for the Australian herd and further testing of all dairy herds, by a bulk milk test over the next three years to demonstrate that the herd remains free of infection will allow Australia to claim EBL disease free status in 2012.
DPI Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Andrew Cameron said this was a great achievement for the Victorian dairy sector and animal health authorities.