OJD control options tabled

Rebecca TurnerCountryman
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The future management of Ovine Johne's Disease (OJD) on a national level is up for discussion.

This is as a result of the release of Wool Producers Australia (WPA) and Sheepmeat Council of Australia's (SCA) review of the 2007-2012 OJD management plan which is due to expire next June.

Information from the review has resulted in SCA and WPA developing four potential options for a national future approach to the OJD management plan beyond June 30, 2012.

Option one is a revised version of the current OJD management plan.

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Option two is to implement a two-area model, containing a protected area and an OJD management area, modelled on the Bovine Johne's disease framework developed by Animal Health Committee and the cattle and dairy sectors.

Option three is to move to a nationally co-ordinated OJD risk management based largely on Sheep Health Statements declaration.

Option four is ceasing a national approach and allowing State departments to operate programs with their own standards.

The four options may be altered if feedback from the public consultation indicates that improvements can be made to better reflect industry needs.

WAFarmers has announced it supports option two for OJD management provided Sheep Health Statements are mandatory and abattoir surveillance takes place to full capacity in WA.

The decision followed WAFarmers' combined wool and meat council meeting held last week where Sheepmeat Council of Australia senior policy officer Kathleen Ferme was on hand to answer questions.

WAFarmers acting wool section president Ed Rogister said it was a process of elimination with option two being the preferred model if it could be implemented properly at a State level.

The review states that option two acknowledges producers in areas where OJD is rare or unknown have different needs and aspirations to those in regions where the disease is established.

It says under option two, the OJD management plan would focus on maintaining the present status of the sheep population in protected areas by actively managing the exclusion of the disease.

In the management area, where the disease is now widespread, OJD impacts on production and animal health and welfare would aim to be reduced.

Mr Rogister said should option two be supported around the country, WAFarmers would like to see the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) play a larger leadership role than it did currently in order to achieve the desirable outcomes for industry.

"DAFWA has demonstrated limited leadership in the area of OJD management to date," he said.

"Ongoing research is important for the long-term decision making on OJD and WAFarmers wants to see more research and development take place on OJD DNA markers."

A DAFWA spokesman said it would be involved in discussions in response to the paper through the OJD Advisory Committee which was made up of representatives from industry and the department.

Mr Rogister said any program that was selected must be simple and consistent because the current management program at State level had been a far cry from that.

WAFarmers will make a submission to the review process before the October 14 deadline.

The decision will be made at a national level by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia and given to the States for implementation by July 2012.

A final decision will be announced by January 1, 2012, and any changes implemented from July 1, 2012.

WAFarmers urges sheep producers to fill out the online questionnaire available at <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.ojd.com.au">www.ojd.com.au </a>.

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