WA cattle industry to reduce regulatory status of Johne’s disease

  • WA livestock industry accepts eradication of Johne’s disease in cattle is unfeasible after recent detection
  • State Government supporting producers to transition 
  • The State Government is working with the Western Australian cattle industry to reduce the regulatory status of Johne’s disease cattle strain (C-strain) after infection was confirmed on a cattle property in southern WA.

    An investigation by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development found the chronic wasting disease had been present on the property for several years and tracing indicated cattle had been moved to a large number of properties within WA.

    Industry has been extensively consulted and agreed eradication of Johne’s disease (C strain) is now not technically feasible given the unknown original source of the infection and the difficulty testing and diagnosing the disease. In addition, the regulatory burden that would be placed on a large number of properties for several years could not be justified economically.

    The decision brings WA into line with all other States and Territories, which deregulated C-strain Johne’s disease controls in 2016 and introduced an industry accreditation program to provide property level assurances about the disease status for Johne’s disease.

    Johne’s disease, including sheep, cattle and bison strains, will remain a reportable disease in WA, and appropriate systems maintained to meet international market certification obligations.

    There will be a transition period while necessary support measures are provided to cattle producers, including an information package on the disease and the national industry program, and property biosecurity measures.

    Cattle producers are encouraged to maintain biosecurity practices to protect WA cattle herds from Johne’s disease and help maintain access to specified markets with Johne’s disease requirements.

    More details about the tools and measures to support producers during the transition will be available from https://www.agric.wa.gov.au

    As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:

    “While it is very disappointing the C-strain of Johne’s disease has been confirmed in Western Australia, eradication is clearly no longer a viable option for our cattle industry.

    “The State Government will continue to support cattle producers to protect their herds from this disease at an individual property level, as the State transitions to the new arrangements.

    “Industry will need to remain vigilant and continue biosecurity measures to manage their herds to maintain livestock productivity and profitability.”

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