Is South Australia going it alone on OJD again?

Terry Sim, May 2, 2018

New Livestock SA president Joe Keynes.

SOUTH Australia is in danger of again attempting to regulate Ovine Johne’s Disease management in the state, independent of any national plan.

And the persistence of South Australian authorities to continue with a state-based plan could undermine the current National OJD Management Plan review process, according to WoolProducers Australia.

South Australian livestock industry leader Livestock SA president Joe Keynes this week said there is a risk South Australia “won’t be conforming to the national OJD review.”

“Whatever the (national) review comes up with, there is a risk that we may not be in lockstep with that,” he said.

“They (SASAG and Primary Industries and Regions SA) are going to develop a new program to support industry in how we manage OJD in the future – that’s really great and I think that’s fantastic.

“SASAG and PIRSA will develop a program, but as far as I know they are doing that before the (national) OJD review comes out,” Mr Keynes said.

But the Livestock SA leader believes it would be “useful” if the SA program could line up with any national program. Although Livestock SA has a representative on SASAG, Mr Keynes said he has not seen new SA OJD program arrangements being considered by PIRSA and SASAG.

“I haven’t had access to those proposals.”

Mr Keynes said he hoped the new SA arrangements did not attempt to continue OJD regulation in the state.

SA OJD proposals “out for consultation”, but with who?

SA’s chief vet Roger Paskin has avoided answering Sheep Central questions on OJD management in SA directly or personally. However, in a recent media release he said: “It is likely that new (SA) program arrangements will be in place by early June.”

After Sheep Central sought further details on SA’s proposed new OJD arrangements, PIRSA said the national and state OJD programs are out for consultation and until this process is complete, PIRSA is unable to comment further on these issues.

“As per the media release, with the latest changes to the abattoir monitoring program in place, PIRSA is now working with the South Australian Sheep Advisory Group (SASAG) on alternative program proposals for managing JD in sheep,” the latest PIRSA statement said.

Submissions to a review of the National OJD Management Plan being conducted by WoolProducers Australia and Sheep Producers Australia closed on March 12 this year and draft recommendations are expected to be released over the coming months. The national review process included a discussion paper and an online producer survey. However, Sheep Central believes no details on SA’s proposed new OJD arrangements nor any discussion paper has been released generally to the state’s sheep producers.

Need for wider SA producer consultation – Keynes

Mr Keynes said he would like to see the proposed SA OJD changes and it would be useful for SA producers to be engaged.

“I think a wider consultation process should take place.”

He believed the proposed SA OJD changes might not have been submitted as part of the NOJDP review process.

Mr Keynes said he did not know why SASAG did not consult more widely as its members were selected as having the skills to represent industry on the government advisory group.

“All that is fine, except why wouldn’t you canvass other views and just see if you could get a more holistic program?”

WPA unaware of SA OJD proposals

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said WPA and Sheep Producers Australia  are undertaking the NOJDMP review to determine if a future national approach is warranted.

“There has been a public consultation undertaken to seek direction from industry on this issue.

“The PIRSA release last week regarding SA implementing a new OJD plan was the first that WPA had heard of this, and whilst WPA has yet to make a determination on what, if any future approach may be taken to the national management of OJD, it now appears null and void if one state is going to continue to do their own thing with no consultation with the national bodies.”

Ms Hall said WPA isn’t aware of any detail of the proposed SA OJD program.

“We haven’t been contacted,” she said.

“We were only made aware of a new SA OJD program through the media release issued by PIRSA last week.

“This is disappointing given that we are in the process of trying to determine an appropriate approach from a national perspective, which now appears impossible given we have one state that appears to be acting unilaterally.”

The two options considered in the NOJDMP review included:

– that the current NOJDMP cease, with continued availability of tools and strategies for managing OJD through the Sheep Health Project and producers being encouraged to maintain biosecurity for OJD and other diseases and conditions, or;

– a revised OJD framework will be developed based on the current plan and taking in to account stakeholder feedback.

The current NOJDMP did not stipulate regulation of OJD management, unless determined by individual state jurisdictions, as in South Australia. While other states have largely de-regulated the disease’s management, SA authorities have treated the entire state as a regional biosecurity area and tried to monitor and regulate the disease’s introduction and spread. This has been attempted through stopping the entry of OJD-infected sheep, the quarantining of infected flocks and properties via Property Disease Management Plans, the SheepMAP program for stud breeders, abattoir surveillance, Gudair vaccine subsidies, on-farm monitoring by veterinarians and producers, and producer education.

Despite a PIRSA-commissioned report for SASAG recommending that OJD management in South Australia be de-regulated and that the disease’s prevalence would probably increase in high rainfall areas even if regulatory controls continue, Sheep Central understands some members of the stud breeder-dominated SASAG committee want to maintain some level of OJD regulation in the state.

Chairman of the government-appointed South Australian Sheep Advisory Group Ian Rowett this week maintained he could not comment on OJD issues as he was gagged by the state government.


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