Turning farms into 'fortresses'

07 Feb, 2015 01:00 AM
Chairman of the Livestock Biosecurity Network David Palmer.
It’s about helping farmers protect their livestock assets which, in some cases, are worth millions
Chairman of the Livestock Biosecurity Network David Palmer.

FARMERS should treat their boundary fences the same way they expect the federal government to protect our national borders, says David Palmer, chairman of the Livestock Biosecurity Network (LBN).

The former managing director of Meat and Livestock Australia wants producers to turn their farms into fortresses against the incursion of pests and diseases.

He said the LBN, although small and lean, was having success raising awareness about the beneficial impact that good on-farm biosecurity management has on producers' bottom lines.

The LBN’s main aim was to encourage farmers to better understand the value of their livestock assets and the need to adopt biosecurity practices that improved animal welfare and productivity as well as reducing costs, he said.

The LBN was established nationally in 2013 as a three-year pilot program by the Sheepmeat and Cattle Councils of Australia and WoolProducers Australia with the support of $5 million in grower transaction levies held in trust.

The peak livestock and wool councils were responding to rising industry concerns about the impact of diseases and pests on the farming economy.

At the top of Australia’s farm biosecurity risk management programs is ensuring we are well prepared for an outbreak of disastrous exotic diseases, notably foot and mouth, but keeping endemic diseases and pests such as lice, footrot, OJD and invasive weeds off farms are also essential for healthy and profitable farms.

Mr Palmer said the performance of the LBN would be independently reviewed at the end of this year or early in 2016 and while he personally didn't support any major expansion he believed the network could have an important ongoing role in changing attitudinal behaviour to biosecurity among producers and others in the supply chain, such as agents, stock carriers and saleyard operators.

The LBN’s six regional officers strategically located around the country had been building networks with existing organisations involved in biosecurity such as departments of agriculture, farm organisations, farmer groups, agribusinesses and stock agents, Mr Palmer said.

The LBN was using these public/private partnerships to roll out initiatives, workshops and projects aimed at improving farmer awareness of biosecurity risks as well as the practices that minimised them, he said.

The LBN officers were also helping co-ordinate specific biosecurity programs to tackle problems and issues raised by farmers in their region such as wild dog and lice control and better preparing stock for road transport to markets and abattoirs.

“The LBN is about money. It’s about helping farmers protect their livestock assets which, in some cases, are worth millions of dollars,” Mr Palmer said.

Vernon Graham

Vernon Graham

is the group editor of Fairfax Agricultural Media
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


7/02/2015 3:10:08 AM

Developing farm biosecurity is going to take a change in the public mindset. It is hard enough with family, telling them that they can no longer drive their cars into the paddock, but a recent transaction with the local policeman indicates just how difficult it will be. When coming to do a firearms inspection, rather than use the driveway and open and close two gates he drove directly across the paddock to the point nearest the house and then expected me to remove a gate so that he could drive into the house yard. For me to have refused would amount to a "failure to co-operate" and an offence
9/02/2015 1:48:19 PM

How can I protect my borders when a local mining company next to me has the right to resume farmers land under a state agreement act negotiated back in the 60's. Hint - they mine bauxite.
16/02/2015 12:38:16 PM

Admirable stuff....and optimistic. I always thought biosecurity was a primary role for the old PP boards/ LHPAs. I'm not sure how individuals can achieve what these organisations have given up on. I'm not sure I want my levies used on project attempting to reinvent the wheel. Doesn't LLS have a role here?...it must serve some purpose, reports I'm getting suggest it's a mess with some people sitting around being paid and not knowing what their role is.


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