COST-benefit analysis may determine viable options aimed at continuing to protect the WA cattle industry from Bovine Johne's Disease (BJD).
A BJD advisory committee headed by David Jarvie, a WA Biosecurity Council member and veterinarian with more than 30 years' experience in livestock export, recently considered a draft report on the potential impact of deregulated national protocols.
The report identified 26 WA coastal shires, from Dandaragan south to Esperance, where a risk exists of the wasting disease being brought in with cattle imported from the Eastern States unless local controls are maintained.
Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) monitoring and testing has enabled WA exporters to declare their cattle came from a BJD-free zone, but national deregulation will end that.
"The committee has been considering various surveillance and management options and discussing the benefits and drawbacks of these with their respective industry members," Dr Jarvie said on Tuesday.
He said DAFWA was providing technical expertise to help committee members assess the feasibility of options.
"The outcome of these committee discussions has been to initiate a cost-benefit analysis of the options available and to examine mechanisms to manage a BJD program if industry were to decide to proceed to an industry-funded control program," he said.
"Once the cost-benefit analysis has been completed, the committee will communicate the results to industry for their feedback before making a decision about how to proceed.''
Dr Jarvie said in the interim, WA BJD import conditions were being reviewed and were likely to remain the same, subject to industry decisions.
"The committee is continuing to consult with industry members about potential options and I encourage WA industry members to contact their respective industry committee representatives for more information," he said.
The national Animal Health Committee is expected to revoke existing BJD protocols in April or May.
The protocols were supposed to restrict infected cattle movement and ensure mandatory reporting, but have not worked in the Eastern States where BJD is prevalent in some areas.
Eastern States' cattle producers have been pushing for deregulation which will remove declared BJD-free or low-incidence zones recognition, as well as WA cattle exporters' disease-free marketing advantage.
With deregulation and an absence of State controls, WA producers may have to band together in specific areas to pay for periodic herd testing to prove their cattle are BJD free before they can make an export declaration required for some markets.
The WA BJD advisory committee includes Catherine Marriott, Kimberley Pilbara Cattlemen's Association; Murray Grey, Pastoralists and Graziers Association; David Lovelock, United Beef Breeders Association of WA; Dale Park, WAFarmers; Ivan Rogers, WA Beef Council; Warrick Tyrrell, WA Dairy; and Peter Cunningham, WA National Indigenous Pastoral Enterprises.
Ian Bradshaw, Cattle Veterinary Services, and Michelle Rodan, WA's chief veterinary officer, are also members.