$2.2m to fight ARGT threat

26 Feb, 2004 07:00 PM
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THE comprehensive report on annual ryegrass toxicity was released this week and pledged more than $2.2 million in funding over the next three years, ARGT action committee president Barrie Bywater said.

Mr Bywater said the report was a positive step towards fighting ARGT.

He believed ARGT posed a bigger threat to WA's agricultural industry than Ovine Johnes disease.

A national advisory council on ARGT will be established, with representatives from industry, agriculture departments and CSIRO.

"It seems like they've taken a long time, but it's been very thorough," Mr Bywater said.

"They've certainly done their homework."

Part of the program will involve spending $750,000 on current measures of prevention like twist fungus and Safeguard Mr Bywater said.

He said a further $1.025m would be spent on a commercial business plan to develop the trialled ARGT vaccine.

Mr Bywater said a new biological control for ARGT was also being investigated and was currently under review by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

Greenhills farmer Kevin Binning also believed ARGT, like OJD, needed a proactive approach.

He said communication between neighbours and a management plan was important.

"Initially ARGT was not talked about between neighbours," Mr Binning said.

He felt the report was a little too late, but said any form of awareness was good.

Mr Binning hoped the report would contain a more open approach to ARGT between agricultural agencies and farmers.

He implemented the ARGT inhibiting twist fungus on his 1400ha property in 1998 after losing significant numbers of lambs.

He said the standard practice of locking up a pasture paddock for livestock could be deadly if late rains prompted ARGT.

Around 80ha a year is now spread with twist fungus as part of an ongoing management strategy.

He said a wider education campaign in previous years may have helped to reduce the affects of ARGT.

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