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Feedback needed on BJD plan

SuppliedThe West Australian

*The Bovine Johne's disease prevention program is under review as a new national BJD strategic plan is being rolled out with a target completion date of February next year.

WA is currently a BJD-free zone, and while the Department of Agriculture and Food WA maintains a surveillance program, it warns the new BJD strategy options to apply in WA will come with risks and opportunities.

Department chief veterinary officer Michelle Rodan said it was important that WA beef and dairy industry members provided feedback to ensure the State's interests were considered in the new strategy.

"The national review process is available on Animal Health Australia's website and the implementation options considered have been emailed directly to beef and dairy producers for their information," she said.

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Ms Rodan said producers could comment either directly to AHA by email or to their WA industry representative, and a discussion would be held in Perth on Tuesday.

Cattle Council of Australia WA BJD representative David Lovelock said it was important producers had their say in the national review to ensure the most appropriate option for WA industries was selected.

"There are risks and opportunities for the cattle industry in WA for BJD, particularly if the national review proceeds down the market assurance path," he said.

"The review panel is seeking minimum regulation with a concept of zones/States with the different prevalence of BJD allowing acceptance of low incidence."

Mr Lovelock said the pressure towards deregulation would require producers to accept more responsibility for farm biosecurity rather than simply relying on department regulations.

"Under deregulation, some producers may accept greater risks with their purchases," he said.

"With many sheep flocks endemic with the 'S' strain of Johne's disease, which is infectious to cattle, there are considerable risks."

Mr Lovelock said the financial impact to WA would be about $600,000 a year if BJD became established and spread.

"Properties involved in the live export trade to China and other new markets would suffer serious financial costs," he said.

For more information on the Perth meeting, email bjdreview @animalhealthaustralia.com.au.

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