New OJD plan

30 Jan, 2002 10:00 PM
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THE PGA has recently reiterated its opposition to the proposed $22.1 million national Ovine Johne's Disease assistance plan being pushed by WoolProducers and Sheepmeat Council of Australia.

In a letter addressed to Agriculture Minister Warren Truss, PGA president Barry Court said that the plan was not acceptable because it had already been agreed nationally that any OJD compensation would be a state issue.

WA producers pay about three cents a sheep transaction as part of the National Ovine Johne's Disease Control and Evaluation Program (NOJDP), but could pay substantially more under the new proposal.

The new plan, boosted by additional transaction levies, aimed to accelerate the control and eradication of OJD during the final three-year phase of the NOJDP.

In the letter, Mr Court said that the new proposal, while covering other states, was mainly aimed at assisting New South Wales producers with OJD-infected flocks.

Meanwhile the PGA, WAFarmers and Stud Merino Breeders Association were working with authorities to develop WA's own OJD compensation scheme.

Mr Court said OJD-affected producers in NSW were clearly suffering but questioned if the hardship stemming from the actions of the authorities, and endorsed by NSW industry, was greater than the hardship caused by OJD alone.

He said WoolProducers had the audacity to claim WA producers should either support the proposal for an increase in the national levy or suffer the consequences should there be an exotic disease outbreak in WA.

"It is unacceptable for WA producers to pay an increased national levy for financial support to NSW producers affected by a disease that is probably endemic and is the responsibility of that state to manage ‹ if they choose to do so," he said.

"Such arrogance defies belief and ignores the obvious and accepted division between diseases that have national, social and trade implications such as foot-and-mouth disease, and those that don't, such as OJD."

Mr Court said this approach flew in the face of generations of precedent concerning the responsibilities for endemic disease control in the Australian federation.

"WoolProducers, possibly in alliance with SCA, will seek to defy precedent, logic and fair play, and ask you to approve an increase in the transaction levy to assist producers affected by OJD," he said.

"You must reject such an approach."

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