CONCERNS that Western Australia may change its strict border policy to allow cattle from the Eastern States to cross into the Kimberley were raised during the general business section of the WAFarmers Livestock Committee annual general meeting at The Westin Perth hotel recently.
Safe Farms WA chairman Mike Norton, a former WAFarmers president, who "sits on the industry funding management committee of beef", said "there's been some industry issues come up around Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD) and the changes to border security that will happen in May of this year".
"There was an industry briefing a month ago - it was represented by the (WAFarmers) dairy section," Mr Norton said.
"It's a pretty important issue, because we have probably got one of the cleanest beef and diary herds in Australia without question so far as BJD is concerned.
"Our instances in infection here are extraordinary low and if we really want to keep it that way we need to keep our border security structures in place."
Mr Norton said the organisation had until May to make recommendations to the Minister - "whether you want those changes made to our border security".
He said while the Kimberley hasn't had a good year there was a lot of cattle being moved out of New South Wales and the Northern Territory - "and a lot of those corporate farms are looking at moving a lot of those cattle into WA.
"As the vets have told us, as soon as that happens you bring in disease, be it BJD or whatever.
"I really push or certainly support that our meat section really does support the border security that we have in place going forward, otherwise you can forget about our status on BJD in this State."
He said there was "some link between BJD and the human variant Crohn's disease" and a lot of work was being done to try and get a much cheaper and effective control of the disease.
WAFarmers Livestock Section president David Slade said he was on the Animal Health and Welfare Committee of the Cattle Council of Australia and they had been talking about the issue of BJD.
"The rest of the country wants us to drop our borders but we are standing firm on that - and we've got good reasons why," Mr Slade said.
"That's what we need to do."