THE Agriculture Department has defended itself against claims by WAFarmers meat and wool section pre

28 Sep, 2006 07:00 PM

The option was one of three provided in the form released to 11,000 sheep producers by the Agriculture Department¹s Foot-rot Eradication Campaign Advisory Committee (FECAC) regarding the management of footrot.

WAFarmers meat section president Mike Norton and wool section president Max Watts said option three would eliminate border security in WA and leave the state¹s agricultural industry open to a multitude of diseases.

The presidents said there was a disturbing trend emerging in the department¹s biosecurity role.

³We¹ve already seen the department wash its hands of Ovine Johne¹s Disease (OJD) management; now it¹s footrot,² Mr Watts said.

He said the deregulation of the footrot eradication program would place the state¹s livestock industry under increasing threat.

³The survey is worded in such a way as to force farmers into choosing option three: an option that would completely eliminate all border security in this state and leave our multi-million dollar agricultural ind-ustry wide open to a multitude of diseases,² Mr Watts said.

³The eastern states expe-rience was that properties infec-ted with footrot were also infec-ted with OJD.

³In light of the department¹s management of OJD, a similar inept approach to footrot will guarantee the spread of both diseases at an alarming rate.

³If we drop the footrot program I¹ve no doubt that we¹ll see a steady increase in cases of OJD.²

Mr Watts said it was time to look at how the department was being managed and ‹ like any enterprise ‹ fresh blood could yield greater results.

Mr Norton said the move by the Agriculture Department to urge farmers to vote for option three highlighted the depart-ment¹s negative attitude concerning biosecurity.

³OJD control has been let go, now the department is letting footrot go, and if the industry did not push for Bovine Johne¹s Disease eradication, that would be let go too,² he said.

Mr Norton said other biose-curity issues needing to be tac-kled, included lice resistance where pour-ons were not working because of a resistance build-up.

³The attitude of the depart-ment is that the government is cutting its budget,² he said.

³WAFarmers is prepared to look at spending money on the issue and we¹ve told them that.²


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