Producers urged to be disease-ready

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could cost Australian agriculture up to $52 billion over 10 years, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

The Department of Agriculture and Food was at Wagin Woolorama with a display urging producers to prepare for any outbreak of an emergency disease.

Agriculture Minister Ken Baston said the most effective method of reducing the spread of an emergency disease was to call for a livestock standstill if an outbreak occurred.

"A standstill would reduce the spread of the disease and thereby lower the cost of eradicating it and minimise the time required to restore markets," he said.

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"During a standstill, livestock susceptible to FMD, such as cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, llamas, alpacas, deer, camels and buffalo, would not be allowed to be moved for 72 hours."

Mr Baston said an outbreak of FMD would close livestock-related export markets.

At Wagin, it was announced DAFWA would be working with local industry in a series of regional and State workshops to enhance arrangements for implementing a national livestock standstill.

WA Senator Chris Back said the risk of a disease outbreak had never been higher, with movement of people across the seas.

Senator Back said Australia's high biosecurity standards were recognised during a recent visit to the US where he met Department of Agriculture officials.

"The US is under intense pressure on its meat imports," he said.

"The message was that Australia has to be spot-on with biosecurity."

Senator Back said the progression of such high standards would open up opportunities, such as those with the Chinese market.

Discussions with the industry will be ongoing and members of the Stud Merino Breeders' Association of WA members said they were investigating what effect such biosecurity measures would have on the industry.

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