Queensland Government boosts Foot and Mouth Disease preparations

JOINT STATEMENT

The Palaszczuk Government will recruit a specialised squad of trained biosecurity officers to boost the states frontline defences against outbreaks of devastating Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin Diseases.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland and Australia are facing unprecedented biosecurity risks and Cabinet, meeting at the Ekka today, was briefed on a more than $20 million package of initiatives to deal with the new threats including 15 new staff.

“This will be supplemented by an ongoing annual investment of almost $2.5 million to boost Queensland’s existing capacity to address increasing biosecurity risks.

“We are stepping up our programs to strengthen years of preparation and prevention measures designed to protect the state’s cattle, sheep, goat and pork industries.

“At least $7 million will go to recruit and train a dedicated team of 10 new biosecurity officers.

“They will be skilled in disease protection strategies and specialised emergency responses.

“Getting these frontline officers strategically located throughout rural and regional Queensland is a top priority,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Our Livestock industries are an essential part of the Queensland economy and represent thousands of good jobs in every region of this state.

“And primary producers are fighting to protect every single one of those jobs and my government is behind them 100%,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

The suite of new measures to bolster Queensland’s biosecurity defences includes:

  • Increased support for our emergency animal disease preparedness team;
  • Providing communications, engagement and training support to industry to ensure uptake of preparedness strategies;
  • Further detailed mapping key supply chains; and
  • Boosting Queensland’s coordinated feral pig control capability.

Queensland is a major player in Australia’s cattle industry with a significant proportion of the nation’s herd.

A large outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease alone could cost the national economy $80 billion over 10 years.

Outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin Diseases in Indonesia have put Australian farmers and Governments on full biosecurity alert.

“Queensland already has very strong legislation and systems in place to deal with these threats and the Emergency Animal Diseases Taskforce is meeting regularly.

“Our farmers know that biosecurity is complex and preparedness against a wide range of threats is critical to success.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Palaszczuk Government’s investments in biosecurity are absolutely vital to protecting the state’s industries.

“Queensland and Australia remain free of Foot and Mouth and Lumpy Skin Diseases, and we want to keep it that way.

“The current outbreaks in Indonesia are causing considerable concern, but industry groups are telling us they have confidence in their biosecurity measures.

“Queensland has been readying for the risk of Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak for many years and our strong relationships with key industry stakeholders mean we are well prepared and able to respond as needed.”

Mr Furner said although Australia remains free of diseases like FMD, LSD, and African Swine Fever, there is no room for complacency.

“Queensland faces significant biosecurity risks and protecting our agriculture industry, communities and great lifestyle is vital,” Mr Furner said.

“Recent detections are a timely reminder that Australia is susceptible to animal diseases through various pathways such as wind-borne insects, food contamination and travellers ignoring biosecurity requirements.

“We are supporting and working hand in hand with our Federal counterparts to protect Queensland and the nation’s livestock industries, and we are in regular contact with key industry stakeholder groups to provide support and information.

“While our ongoing investment in emergency animal disease preparedness positions us to effectively deal with any outbreaks, I encourage livestock owners to be prepared, vigilant and on the lookout for LSD, FMD, and ASF and ramp up their biosecurity practices.

“Good on-farm biosecurity practices can prevent emergency animal diseases establishing or stop them from spreading and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ e-hub, https://daf.engagementhub.com.au/animal-disease-preparedness, has the latest information for livestock owners.”

Other actions already implemented to support industry include:

  • Enhancing our diagnostic capacity and capability;
  • Awareness-raising for early detection and improved on-farm biosecurity;
  • The June launch of an e-Hub portal to provide preparedness information on FMD and LSD for farmers;
  • Active involvement in AUSVETPLAN and the EADRA review – nationally agreed response strategies and cost share arrangements;
  • Sending preparedness information, including links to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries e-Hub resources, to the more than 60,000 Registered Biosecurity Entities across Queensland; and
  • Support for local government and industry with feral pig surveillance and management.

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