LBN is to become a special biosecurity education and extension program within Animal Health Australia, funded by the grass-fed beef-cattle sector and overseen by Cattle Council of Australia.
The AHA involvement was announced by LBN chairman David Palmer today and came after Australia’s sheep meat and wool producer bodies opted to withdraw from the national LBN initiative after June 30 this year, leaving an estimated $600,000 hole in annual funding for the cattle industry to fill.
WoolProducers Australia and the Sheepmeat Council of Australia are withdrawing from LBN despite a performance review on its trial period since 2013 showing a return on investment to industry of $7 for every dollar spent.
Sheep and wool biosecurity activities to continue this year
But Mr Palmer said WPA and the SCA had directed that its share of unspent money, totalling about $1 million including cattle funds, be retained at LBN, to allow planned sheep and wool initiatives to continue until the end of the calendar year.
Mr Palmer said the philosophy of LBN’s charter and that of AHA’s biosecurity program are completely consistent.
“So I think it is a good step.”
Mr Palmer said creation of a culture of on-farm biosecurity awareness and preparedness would continue despite the absence of wool producer and sheep meat funding.
“The sheep and wool industry will mount their own biosecurity programs.”
Mr Palmer said LBN’s future is now secured and LBN officers will continue building biosecurity capability for grass-fed cattle producers across the country.
“LBN has made real inroads into better preparing Australia’s livestock industries to manage biosecurity risks.
“I am proud of our achievements to date and look forward to continuing this important work under the umbrella of AHA,” he said.
“A primary focus for LBN has always been working closely with other industry programs and agencies on their biosecurity communications and extension activities, and coming under AHA will provide even greater opportunity to do this.
“It’s going to be largely business as usual for the LBN regional officers, providing livestock producers with the tools and information needed to prevent and manage disease, pest and weed events and prevent chemical contamination on their farms,” Mr Palmer said.
LBN was established in 2013 as an independent industry initiative funded through the Cattle Council of Australia, the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers Australia. A three-year pilot period is due to end next month.
LBN CEO John Maher to depart
As a part of the transition from a stand-alone company to AHA, LBN’s chief executive John Maher will leave the organisation to take up a new position as chief executive officer of the Indigenous Land Corporation.
“I can’t thank John enough for his contribution to LBN and his leadership in guiding the organisation through to its next phase and to a bright future.
“John’s role with us was always going to be a temporary one to help us through the review of the pilot and confirm LBN’s ongoing role. We wish him all the best in his next venture,” Mr Palmer said.
Mr Palmer said he will continue in his position until LBN Pty Ltd is wound up, which is expected this financial year.
“Going forward, my commitment to LBN remains as strong as ever and as director of the AHA board I can report that the same is true of the board and management.”
LBN will continue to work with producers and farming networks, raising awareness of chemical contamination, biosecurity risks and the need to be prepared for possible outbreaks of exotic or endemic diseases and harmful pests, including the preparation of on-farm biosecurity plans.