As a farmer, my heart last week was with the farmers marching in Colac, petrified at the thought of foot and mouth disease coming to Australia and angry that they didn't think either government or industry was doing everything they could to keep it out.
Scenes in the UK in the first outbreak in 2001 of farmers slaughtering animals en masse, of losing generations of breeding, and the long-lasting human and economic toll are hard to forget.
As an agricultural leader, though, my head wasn't in the same space as these farmers', as I know our biosecurity system to be globally one of the best.
Our world class borders have kept us safe from this disease - and many others - for more than 100 years, even though it's estimated to be circulating in approximately 77 per cent of the global livestock population and spreading rapidly in South East Asia since 2015.
In response to this increase in risk, the National Farmers Federation has been working with government to add extra precautions at our border, and of course to support our Indonesian friends as they battle the disease for the second time.
The latest on FMD:
This has resulted in increased biosecurity powers to compel passengers in the airport arrival halls, increased numbers of border officials and baggage screening by sniffer dogs to catch product being illegally carried, increased passenger screening, increased (100pc) parcel screening for packages from Indonesia and China, increased routine retail inspections for products in Australian supply chains, and the rollout of sanitising footmats for all passengers returning from Indonesia.
We've also run public awareness campaigns to make sure that all travellers know the risks and thank them for abiding by our biosecurity laws and not bringing in any undeclared food products and offering up their footwear for cleaning.
We have other options on the table too and welcome the Minister's readiness to investigate anything and everything that we might bring forward.
Right now, we're calling for every passenger to be screened on arrival - that means questioning and checking for 100pc of people stepping off planes from high-risk countries: no exceptions.
We believe that's the only way to effectively manage the risk of thousands of people arriving every week from infected countries.
That said, the likelihood of FMD reaching Australia in the next five years remains relatively low at an estimated 11.6pc, even with the outbreak in Indonesia.
The likeliest way that the virus could enter Australia and spread to our farms is through the illegal importation of infected meat and subsequent feeding of that to a farm animal - one of the reasons we have supported increased surveillance through every supply chain coming into the country, and support current expert advice that closing borders doesn't completely eliminate the risk, and is likely to do more harm than good.
Successive reviews have found the system is not perfect - particularly in terms of its funding.
The current funding model (heavily reliant on government and agricultural industry) is no longer adequate to address the heightened risks, and we should be moving towards a more sustainable business-as-usual funding stream to maintain a permanent heightened state of readiness to stop and address the risks.
As we've seen in recent weeks, the complexity of the current system is also a concern. While strong and effective plans exist, too few people understand who does what in the complex maze of state, federal and industry responsibilities.
The long-awaited National Biosecurity Strategy is an opportunity to bring clarity on this.
Multiple reviews have highlighted these issues, and the NFF has raised them tirelessly with successive governments.
There have been cracks in the system over the past decade that have seen varroa mite and other diseases enter.
We cannot afford to have that happen with FMD.
The fact is, that with diseases like Japanese encephalitis and lumpy skin being spread through natural vectors, the only really effective thing we can do to stop them coming is to work with our near-neighbour countries to address the risks there, and then of course ensure that our response plans are current, and that farmers have their own biosecurity plans up to date.
We need vigilance, and the ability to act quickly to contain and eradicate.
At the end of the day, like so many things, this all boils down to money.
We welcome the Albanese Government's election commitment to work with us to introduce a sustainable funding stream.
Making good on this commitment cannot come a moment too soon.
Every Australian has an interest in seeing this happen.
- Fiona Simson is the president of the National Farmers Federation.
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