NOW is the time for Western Australian livestock producers to be provided with more details on disease outbreak management.
Pastoralists and Graziers' Association of WA livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore said the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) had advised well-documented plans were in place in the event of an incursion.
However, Mr Patmore said this needed to be explained more thoroughly via an extension program.
"Most of us don't have a good understanding of the process," Mr Patmore said.
"I don't want a situation where most livestock owners learn about the process, after the incursion.
"We need to know beforehand."
Mr Patmore is a sheep farmer in the Mid West where biosecurity groups have shot and poisoned close to 10,000 feral pigs over the past couple of years.
Feral goats and deer have also been an issue in and near the district and are susceptible to FMD.
Such cloven-hoofed animals run in the same paddocks and pastures as cattle and sheep.
Mr Patmore said considerable government funds should be spent on cleaning up these feral animals prior to a disease outbreak - not later.
Furthermore - and beyond the farmgate - he said WA needed to bolster its border controls - mainly at ports and airports.
He said currently anyone importing infected animal products would be unlucky to be caught, labelling penalties as "pathetic".
"Unlike lumpy skin disease, FMD is not spread by insects," Mr Patmore said.
"It would have to be introduced by importing animals or animal products either intentionally or unknowingly.
"An FMD outbreak would have huge ramifications for our livestock industry."
As to whether or not eID tags for sheep could be useful - Mr Patmore believes they will have no effect in preventing or detecting an outbreak.
He said what happened after an outbreak mattered the most.
"The first step is a livestock standstill where every property is effectively placed in quarantine, whether or not they have eIDs," Mr Patmore said.
"The argument in favour of eID is that it will reduce the length of time it takes to trace the affected animals."
Mr Patmore believes WA has a very effective sheep traceability system with pink transaction tags.
He found it very difficult to quantify exactly how much better the eIDs would be.
"Where the current system lets us down is the non-compliance in National Vendor Declaration (NVD) use and the lack of entries into the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database," Mr Patmore said.
"These problems exist with or without eIDs and more work needs to be done on these two aspects urgently - both in sheep and cattle."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.