A YEAR since the launch of One Biosecurity, the state's voluntary on-farm biosecurity program for livestock producers, SA's chief veterinary officer Mary Carr reflects on the implementation of this ground-breaking program.
Developed by PIRSA in collaboration with Livestock SA, One Biosecurity aims to encourage and promote good on-farm practices and risk management across SA's $4.3-billion livestock industry.
Already more than 500 registered producers, representing in excess of 655 farming enterprises, have embraced this latest tool in biosecurity management. One Biosecurity is the platform through which industry and government are partnering to take farm biosecurity into the age of technology.
I describe farm biosecurity as a crucial element in the second tier of biosecurity defence, the first tier being quarantine controls at Australia's borders.
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While Australia has one of the strictest border quarantine arrangements, we know - and the Australian Department of Agriculture findings support this - that pests and diseases are present in products declared or confiscated at our border entry points. Exotic biosecurity threats remain constant and are increasing.
Therefore, this second tier of defence - preventing transmission of pests and diseases to a susceptible species or farm through good biosecurity practices - is vital. As we can't be at every property, every minute of the day, It is up to those on the ground - producers, landholders, transporters and livestock agents - to ensure this biosecurity defence tier is as effective as possible.
Biosecurity needs to be central to everything; it can't just be something you do when there is a disease outbreak or when the auditor turns up. Good on-farm biosecurity will help prevent that nightmare scenario of a major disease outbreak that suddenly brings your property or industry and your livelihood to its knees.
When asking farm visitors, particularly those who have just returned from overseas, to wash their shoes before entering your property, you probably never think that you have just saved your industry from a potential foot and mouth disease outbreak, but that is exactly what you have done.
Someone's shoe could have had the foot and mouth disease virus on it and if they had contact with sheep, cows or pigs, a disease outbreak is a distinct possibility.
This outlook to disease management doesn't just minimise the risk of exotic diseases but endemic diseases as well. One Biosecurity includes specific components on footrot, lice, ovine brucellosis, johnes disease and pestivirus, making introducing new animals to your property more secure.
If you are a producer or agent who has already signed up, actively encourage and support your neighbours and clients to get on board.
It is no longer enough for individual producers to know they're doing the right thing. We are moving to a world of data. We need to be able to show the world we have a community of educated and aware farmers who know how biosecurity works.
One Biosecurity helps to achieve this. It captures the data and provides markets with the evidence of your work, verified by government.
Through this, we can collectively provide our markets with an assurance that South Australian produce, whether on the international or domestic market, can be bought with confidence.
Although measuring the economic advantage of One Biosecurity is difficult, we know that animals produced on properties with good biosecurity and with low risk of disease do attract a premium at the saleyard.
So I call on all involved in the livestock industry to promote and support One Biosecurity. If you are a producer or agent who has already signed up, actively encourage and support your neighbours and clients to get on board.
One Biosecurity will be more successful and ensure South Australian producers can fetch premium prices if everyone in the production chain is part of it. There is too much at stake not to be involved.
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