Cattle Council changes rules on Johnes risk

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Cally DupeThe West Australian
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The Cattle Council of Australia has heeded concerns some producers were unaware of looming changes to the movement of cattle in Australia.

Changes meant producers were initially required to have a biosecurity plan in place before July 1 or their Johne’s Beef Assurance Score would drop to zero.

The score rates a cattle property’s biosecurity risk on a scale of zero to eight, with zero high risk and eight low risk, and affects market access dramatically.

However, Animal Health Australia and CCA last week announced Australian herds with a transitional score of J-BAS seven or eight would revert to a J-BAS six score, instead of zero.

AHA biosecurity and product integrity services manager Rob Barwell said the two companies had taken onboard producers’ concerns.

“We have altered the J-BAS score to alleviate producer concerns regarding loss of domestic market sales,” he said. “This doesn’t change the focus of the new direction — cattle producers are still encouraged to treat Johne’s disease as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business.

“It’s important to remember that key to this new framework is the implementation of robust biosecurity practices, practices which will safeguard the profitability of the cattle producer.”

The JBA works on a set of scores measured by a producer’s previous exposure to JBD and their plan in place to manage the risk. CCA estimates about 300 producers that have been through extensive testing under the old Market Assurance Program will automatically be graded J-BAS eight.

In a letter to Countryman last month, WA Angus Committee member Pam McGregor said many producers were only just becoming aware of new rules.

To maintain a score of seven or above, producers need to have their biosecurity plan overseen by a veterinarian and have undertaken 50 samples with clear results.

The Northern Territory Government recently announced it would only take cattle with a J-BAS of six or higher and with no history of the disease for the past five years.

Cattle travelling into WA would need to be J-BAS seven or eight and meet other requirements.

A biosecurity plan will also be required from October 1. Producers can download a template from farmbiosecurity.com.au. For more visit Animal Health Australia.

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