BEEF and dairy farmer representative groups have joined forces to push for lumpy skin disease to be afforded a stronger priority under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement.
The agreement brings together the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and livestock industry groups to significantly increase Australia's capacity to prepare for and respond to emergency animal disease incursions.
Shifting LSD from its current category three classification to category two would not only make it a higher priority but would increase the Federal Government's financial contribution in the event of an outbreak from 50 per cent of the cost to 80pc, thus reducing the industry's contribution.
Beef industry leaders have expressed concerns the focus on foot and mouth disease had somewhat overshadowed the threat of LSD, which has a far greater likelihood of reaching Australian shores sooner.
Many believe an incursion is highly likely this wet season.
The virus does not affect humans but has serious implications for animal health. It causes emaciation, damage to hides, a decrease in milk production, fever, reproductive losses and can ultimately be fatal.
The disease, identifiable by nodules on animal skin, is usually spread by flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. Infected animals can also contaminate products and equipment.
Australian Dairy Farmers chief executive officer David Inall said unlike FMD, which moves around the world in imported meat and foot traffic, LSD can literally 'blow in'.
"If it continues to travel further south down the island of Sumatra, it is getting closer and closer to the north west of Australia," he said.
"Our focus needs to be very much on what support can be provided to Indonesia to keep that risk as far from Australia as possible.
"We know vaccination has been a challenge with the big number of small land holders in Sumatra, but the good news is the responsibility for the vaccine rollout has now shifted to the agency that led Indonesia's COVID response and we are hearing that is delivering a better outcome."
Mr Inall said should infected insects arrive in Australia, the sooner the detection was identified, the better chance Australia would have of controlling it.
"Key to our response will be the states - significant responsibility will be placed on each state government and we will need to make sure they are aligned and have a lot of federal support," he said.
"Where events like a stock standstill occurs, the states will have to work very closely together."
With a third of Australia's dairy production exported - China being the largest market - government trade negotiations around market access are also now critical.
Both the beef and dairy industries are hoping it is possible to facilitate ongoing trade, where an incursion can be contained to one area of Australia.
A detection in northern Australia would be very different to one in Gippsland, Mr Inall said.