Victorian farmers face stricter fines for failing to tag their cattle properly under new legislation passed by the Victorian Parliament.
The Biosecurity Legislation Amendment (Incident Response) Bill 2024 stated that farmers found to have cattle or other livestock without appropriate tags, or tags that have been removed, face a fine of up to $23,077.
If a group of individuals were responsible for the tagging discrepancies, a fine of $69,232 has been imposed.
While Agriculture Minister Ros Spence remained tight-lipped on the exact details of the fines, she said the measures allowed the state to "create a more resilient biosecurity system".
The new biosecurity legislation also gave greater power to Victoria Police when it came to the force's role in exotic disease control.
Police officers were designated the role of disease control inspector, meaning that they can inspect farms under a disease control order.
The officers can also direct vehicles carrying livestock to alter routes in order to avoid a disease control area.
Under the legislation, farmers can be fined up to $23,077 for allowing livestock to stray in or out of a quarantine area.
Without the written authority of an inspector, a farmer can also not move feed, soil or fodder in or out of such a zone.
A similar fine of more than $23,000 was applied.
In better news for farmers, the bill provided for improved compensation for livestock who succumb to exotic diseases.
The bill stated that farmers should receive compensation for cattle and sheep lost, at the market value of their stock.
The compensation covers livestock which were killed by an exotic disease and those culled to control it.
The value of the livestock is determined via local sales at the time the farmer notified their vet or disease inspector, or at the time the department ordered the animals be culled.
Any farm machinery, equipment or fodder also destroyed in a disease control order, rolled out by Agriculture Victoria, were also covered.
If there is a difference between the compensation received for livestock and the cost of replacing them, a farmer can claim further state payment.
Under the ramped-up biosecurity measures, trespassers on Victorian farms now also face fines of $23,077 for an individual and $115,386 for an organisation, double the previous penalties.
A quarantine order remained at the farm and Agriculture Victoria investigations were ongoing.