Export markets open for Kimberley properties

The West Australian

Eight more properties in the southern Kimberley are now cleared to trade into high-value live export markets that are sensitive to bluetongue virus (BTV).

Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston said the development followed surveillance by the National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) and meant these properties could now access markets in Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

"In 2012-13, trade into BTV-sensitive live export markets was worth $134.6million to Western Australia," Mr Baston said. "During that period these markets accounted for 30 per cent of WA live sheep exports ($49million), 50 per cent of live cattle exports ($68.6million) and 76 per cent of live dairy heifer exports ($17million)."

This trade is underpinned by an internationally recognised surveillance program that tests for the presence of the midges that spread the disease - the NAMP.

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The midges that cause BTV only occur in northern Australia, but their distribution changes with variations in weather patterns. NAMP gathers data on the presence or absence of the virus in zones where the midges exist.

"Where there is no evidence that BTV transmission has occurred for two years, properties within that area can be moved into a BTV-free zone, increasing their range of market options," he said.

"Maintaining our bluetongue virus-free status requires ongoing testing, which is managed at State level by the Department of Agriculture and Food. If the virus is detected in the area again, properties within 100km will be removed from the BTV-free zone."

The livestock industry contributes financially to NAMP, which is managed by Animal Health Australia.

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