Biosecurity boundary blues

Isn't it time we put aside boundaries and assumed a national agreement on biosecurity?

IT IS time for a frank discussion about biosecurity.

The research into this week's Stock & Land stories about National Vendor Declaration (NVD) forms has revealed the plethora of variations across the nation in the number of forms to be used and whether they are compulsory or voluntary in any specific State, Territory or district.

From discussion with many people involved in this issue, the same question arises: Isn't it time we put aside State, Territory and district boundaries and assumed a national agreement on biosecurity?

There is a lot of goodwill in the agriculture industry about this issue, but goodwill does not save people's livelihoods when it comes to disease outbreaks.

Another theme that has prevailed in interviews is the very real and proven risk of incomprehension from our export customers – who make up the livelihoods of our nation's farmers.

Some farmers know this but for some breeders or fatteners, it is enough for them to send their stock to the saleyards.

It is time for everyone to raise their awareness that they are in the food business and producing meat, much of which is exported.

This is the message from Ross Keane of Safemeat.

Livestock agents, some farmers and many others along the production line would like a national electronic system that encompasses information on the NVD and animal health statements – or their local equivalents in other parts of Australia.

Being electronic, relevant information can be distilled to a particular customer, whether it is China, America, Russia or others; because apparently the plethora of information they receive can be confusing and confusion can lead to the meat being rejected.

There are a lot of industry and government groups involved in regulating biosecurity in Australia.

Are they willing to rationalise and create a system that meets our future farmers' livelihoods?

Jeanette Severs is a freelance Gippsland reporter for Stock and Land.

A matter of opinionA selection of editorials from around the Fairfax Agricultural Media group covering the issues of the week.


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