Biosecurity network funding setback

Rueben HaleCountryman
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The sheep and wool industry have stopped funding the Livestock Biosecurity Network.

LBN was established nationally in 2013 by peak industry councils Sheepmeat Council of Australia, Cattle Council of Australia and Wool Producers Australia.

The councils pooled $5 million to fund the initiative for three years using producer transaction levies in response to industry concerns about the possible impact of diseases and pests on the farming economy.

The network was developed to build public/private partnerships to assist with the delivery of information about biosecurity risk to sheep and cattle health and welfare.

Sheepmeat Council acting chief executive Mark Harvey said after assessing the pilot program, the council and WoolProducers Australia had determined it did not fit with their industries specific strategic goals.

“The pilot program was intended to be an extension to Australia’s existing biosecurity arrangements, with a focus on farms,” he said.

“We decided to explore other options for our members because we take the expenditure of their levies extremely seriously and in the end we decided something more industry specific would be better for sheep and wool producers.

“So, we’re now looking at developing our own program in consultation with the SPA.”

Meanwhile, Cattle Council Australia animal health, welfare and biosecurity advisor Justin Thoohey said his organisation would be funding the $1 million a year network entirely.

“We’re looking a a number of funding models, but it would most likely draw baseline funding from the $5 grass-fed levy currently paid by cattle producers,” he said.

“The ownership structure is another aspect that is likely to be reviewed with the network folded as a company and move to become a program under the control of Animal Health Australia.”

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