Tuesday, October 4, 2022

SE farmers unite to protect against FMD and Lumpy Disease

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Chris OldfieldNaracoorte Community News

Red biosecurity signage will soon mushroom on many farm entrances across the SE, along with wash down facilities for visitors – vets, various contractors, shearers, trucks and stock agents.

Even friends and relatives visiting farming families will be required to fill out details about where they have been, and where they will go next.

These are a few of the actions being taken to help keep our region free from Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lumpy Disease.

But if the disease does get into Australia, people can expect lockdowns and border controls similar to Covid-19 restrictions.

All sick and suspect animals will be killed and compensation will be minor compared with the hefty financial losses individual farmers will face. And those losses will be compounded by the loss of overseas markets.

These were among many key messages to around 150 SE farmers from coast to border who recently attended information sessions on the two diseases.

Hosted by the Kingston and Millicent veterinary clinics, and held at Millicent Football Club and Kingston’s Crown Inn Hotel, speakers included PIRSA senior veterinary officer Jeremy Rogers and clinic principals and veterinarians Sarah and Sean McGrath.

Farmers learned as soon as they had an inkling something was wrong with an animal, like limpy feet in sheep, or drooling in cattle, to get it checked out quickly – FMD was highly contagious.

Meanwhile, Lumpy Disease was less contagious and very obvious, causing lumps to appear all over the animal. With so much information “out there” Dr Sarah McGrath praised the livestock industry.

“Everyone’s coming together to try and provide you as the producers, the key stakeholders, with information,” she said. “And ideally, hopefully, we’re all saying the same messages.

“I guess at the end of the day, the buck stops and tends to be with the veterinary officers and the chief veterinary officer.

“They’re the people that are going to set the standard of what happens in the event of a response (to FMD and Lumpy Disease).”

She said the information sessions aimed to help people protect not only their own farms, “but also what we can do as a community”.

It was about “putting our hands up as a group that we do have biosecurity plans in place”.

Dr McGrath said the plans were more than ticking a box and saying that `yep, I’ve got one but I’ve never pulled it out of my filing cabinet’.

Dr Rogers said his main message to farmers was to keep records and improve property to property NLIS transfers.

“You also need to think about decontamination sites and a fire-fighting pump at the gate that you can hose your truck down, or at the yards or something,” he said.

Dr Rogers said the best disinfectant was the ability to first get rid of all the dirt from vehicles, yards, boots and clothing – so a scrubbing brush was handy as well.

“They are all practical things that you can start to do next week,” Dr Rogers said.

Dr Sean McGrath also urged farmers “just to be vigilant – early detection is going to be important to minimising an outbreak”.

He advised farmers to revisit their biosecurity plans, make sure that they had got one “that’s active, current, something that they can put into place day to day and also sustain”.

“There are templates available and it’s just a bit of a checklist to go through.

“There are certain points around how you control animal and people movements on and off your property, and how you minimise the risk of disease coming on and off your property.”

Naracoorte Community News 14 September 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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