NEW South Wales is believed to be the first state apart from Victoria to publicly commit funds to support its sheep and goat producers moving to mandatory electronic identification.
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders announced yesterday that $3.5 million of the state’s $65 million investment in biosecurity measures would go toward driving forward plans for a national mandatory sheep and goat EID system.
Mr Saunders was a prime mover behind the Albanese Government’s recent in-principle support for a national sheep and goat EID system, which is on the agenda of the next AMM meeting next month.
The NSW Government yesterday said the $65 million investment would also fast-track the development of vaccines against Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease to help position the state as leaders in the fight against exotic animal diseases.
Mr Saunders said the preparedness package addresses the devastating impacts an incursion of FMD – or any other exotic animal disease – would have on NSW and Australia.
“This funding will immediately boost our ability to make an early detection of an exotic pest or disease in NSW, deploy cutting edge technology to survey and diagnose diseases and train a response ready workforce to manage a significant outbreak,” Mr Saunders said.
“We need to be prepared to fight and eradicate any exotic pest and disease that arrives on our shores, and this investment means we will have the right army and technology ready to do just that.
“Our farmers deserve to have the confidence to know that if we have an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, we will be quick to respond, well prepared and ready to return to export markets faster,” he said.
“We have been meeting with farmers, livestock agents and agricultural experts right across NSW who have said measures like these would play an instrumental role in building confidence amongst the sector that the government is equipped and ready for the fight.
“Today, through this announcement, we reinforce our commitment that we will do whatever it takes to keep our world-class agricultural sector safe.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the goal was to develop mRNA synthetic vaccines for FMD and LSD.
“Current FMD vaccines are made using the virus itself, meaning even vaccinated animals have to be destroyed for Australia to regain our FMD-free status following an outbreak.
“The development of a synthetic mRNA vaccine could be the key for Australia to apply for FMD-free status without having to destroy vaccinated animals, allowing us to preserve our trade status,” Mr Toole said.
“Australia currently enjoys FMD-free status, giving us continued access to premium international markets for our world-class produce.
“The world is also yet to develop a killed or synthetic vaccine for Lumpy Skin, so having these two mRNA vaccines in our arsenal should these diseases reach our shores would give us a clear edge on the world stage,” he said.
“Our message is simple: We are doing everything we can to keep NSW free of FMD and Lumpy Skin Disease, but we are also preparing for the worst by investing $229 million this year alone – the biggest investment by a single jurisdiction on exotic pest and disease control.”
The NSW Government is also committing $55.8 million for practical, on-ground biosecurity risk mitigation and response preparedness activities, including:
- $26.3 million to expand a trained response workforce of at least 2000 experts;
- $17.8 million for on-ground animal control activities to control potential infected premises, increase culling of feral pigs and deer and incentivise farmers to beef up their biosecurity plans;
- $9.7 million to enhance disease surveillance through new intelligent track and trace technology, and;
- $2 million to roll out targeted extension and awareness campaigns to educate livestock owners, handlers, and the community on clinical signs and reporting requirements, as well as how to reduce risks.
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