Good biosecurity is a producer's strongest defense against the risks associated with the introduction of unwanted pests and diseases.
Safeguarding the industry against pest and disease incursion has previously been seen as the responsibility of government, but ensuring good animal health and biosecurity is everyone's business.
To help producers to be proactive in their management of biosecurity, two new industry-based roles have been created to promote the benefits of good biosecurity to the SA red meat and wool sectors.
Working in these roles as biosecurity extension officers are Animal Health Australia's Emily Buddle and Livestock SA's Pene Keynes.
Dr Buddle and Ms Keynes will work with producers to demonstrate that implementing biosecurity measures is a farm insurance policy that protects the productivity and profitability of a producer's greatest assets - their land and livestock.
Because biosecurity and maintaining good animal health go hand-in-hand, many producers are already practicing good farm biosecurity in their everyday activities without realising it.
Documenting these measures in a biosecurity plan is essential, not only for meeting the requirements of Livestock Production Assurance and other farm assurance programs, but also for promoting SA's outstanding animal health and welfare credentials to domestic and international markets.
But, there is more to biosecurity than just market access; developing a biosecurity plan can help producers build awareness of what they are already doing within their business and gain a better understanding of what else they should be doing to reduce their risk of introducing a pest or disease onto their farm.
At the heart of their work, Emily and Pene will be working with producers to capture what they are already doing on-farm, as well as helping to identify additional unforeseen risks and discover new ways in which to defend farm businesses against pests and diseases.
Greater awareness of biosecurity risks and ways they can be managed on-farm feeds into good business management and can help improve overall productivity and profitability.
Ensuring producers are aware of their responsibilities during an emergency animal disease outbreak is also paramount in minimising disease spread.
Better awareness of risk management more generally provides producers with a solid foundation during times of adversity, such as through bushfire or drought when there are other more pressing things taking place. In these situations, underlying biosecurity principles can also help protect against any long-term animal health consequences.
There are many different biosecurity planning tools available to producers, including PIRSA's One Biosecurity, which provides producers with an easy to navigate, web-based planning tool that considers all of the critical aspects of on-farm biosecurity.
Capturing this data electronically in a central location through One Biosecurity also provides those who are negotiating trade deals with credible information about the health and welfare of SA's sheep and beef cattle, providing a potential edge when securing markets for red meat and wool products.
Producers and farming businesses keen to learn more about general biosecurity, how to develop a biosecurity plan or gain a better understanding of their role during an emergency animal disease outbreak are encouraged to get in touch with Dr Buddle and Ms Keynes.
The South Australian Livestock Biosecurity Extension project has been made possible by PIRSA's Red Meat and Wool Growth Program and Animal Health Australia through the National Sheep Industry Biosecurity Strategy 2019-2024.
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