Key members of the rural sector have today joined the NSW Government at Sydney International Airport to send a message to travellers to do their bit to keep the highly contagious Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) out of Australia.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said with FMD now on our doorstep in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, and international flights at peak levels since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical everyone plays their part in protecting our biosecurity.
“We know that an incursion of FMD would be devastating and the impacts would be felt far beyond our agriculture sector,” Mr Toole said.
“That’s why we’re standing up with industry and asking everyone to spread the word and not FMD. For anyone arriving from Bali, or elsewhere in Indonesia, please do the right thing, declare where you’ve been, make sure any clothes and shoes are clean and free from soil and manure, and steer clear of anywhere there might be livestock for seven days on your return.
“Nobody wants to be the person who brings in a disease that would devastate our livestock industry, cost the economy $80 billion, and shatter regional communities for years to come.”
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said that Australia is in a make-or-break stage of keeping FMD out of the country.
“FMD is the closest it has ever been to our country, so the next few months are absolutely critical in spreading the word about the seriousness of a potential incursion and the ramifications it would have on our primary industries sector and our country as a whole,” Mr Saunders said.
“NSW is prepared; we have plans in place if FMD does make it into our state, but we want to avoid this at all costs. We all have a role to play in keeping our primary industries safe.”
Cattle Council Australia President Lloyd Hick said Australian beef cattle producers are right to be concerned by the threat.
“This disease would gut our industry and can easily travel back to Australia on clothing,” Mr Hick said.
“Cattle Council expects the biosecurity response to increase whenever there is a growing threat. Biosecurity resources must be used in the best way possible to maximise protection to our industry.”
CEO of Sheep Producers Australia Bonnie Skinner said they have always taken the threat of an exotic disease incursion like FMD extremely seriously and have been deliberately and proactively working on the continual improvement of their biosecurity capabilities.
“The value of what we produce is defined by our capacity to export. International trade is critical to the Australian economy, providing jobs and prosperity. We need to be ahead of the threats and opportunities that give Australia the ability to provide food security both domestically and internationally,” Ms Skinner said.
NSW Farmers Head of Policy Annabel Johnson said it was critical for everyone to do their part in keeping FMD off our shores.
“Farmers are rightly very concerned about the impact this disease will have if it reaches Australia,” Ms Johnson said.
“That’s why NSW Farmers has been calling for a stronger biosecurity system, and we were pleased to see the NSW Government step up to the plate in that regard with the recent budget.
“Now is the time for all levels of government, all industries, all Australians to join together and make sure our biosecurity safeguards are as strong as possible.”
State President of Country Women’s Association Joy Beames said biosecurity is everyone’s issue and the costs will go far beyond the farm gate.
“When talking about FMD, we are looking at a threat to a $100 billion Australian industry; a threat that could have people lose their whole livelihoods almost overnight,” Ms Beames said.
“If FMD was to reach Australia, we are looking at possible human tragedies as well as agricultural ones, and this is my concern.”
For more information, visit https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/beef-cattle/health-and-disease/viral-diseases/fmd