WoolProducers Australia highlights FMD risk to wool trade

Sheep Central, February 19, 2019

CHINA’S suspension of wool exports from South Africa is expected to intensify demand for Australian wool this week.

However, the fall-out from South Africa notifying the World Organisation for Animal Health of a FMD outbreak in Limpopo, bordering Zimbabwe, has also highlighted the importance of Australia’s biosecurity measures.

On February 12, Chinese authorities issued an early warning notice that it is forbidden to import cloven-hoofed animals and related products directly or indirectly from South Africa, and to stop issuing entry animal and plant quarantine permits. After China halted imports of South African wool, South African wool sales were suspended this week.

Australia’s peak wool grower body, WoolProducers Australia, yesterday used the South African situation to issue “a timely reminder” of the impacts that an incursion would have in Australia.

WoolProducers chief executive officer Jo Hall said the Australian wool market might receive some short term benefit from the suspensions. But she said they should serve as a serious prompt about the ramifications of what an FMD outbreak would have on the $3.9 billion Australian wool sector, and the wider Australia economy if there was an FMD incursion in Australia.

WoolProducers, as the wool industry signatory for the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA), invests significant levies into EAD preparedness and response activities on behalf of Australian woolgrowers.

“We take this role extremely seriously to try and ensure that if an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) incursion, such as FMD, did occur in Australia that the industry is as prepared as possible,” Ms Hall said.

In order to fulfil this role WoolProducers must ensure that there are adequate numbers of industry personnel trained and facilitate this through both domestic and international training, along with ensuring that the policies supporting the EAD framework assist woolgrowers as much as possible, including lobbying for fair valuation and compensation arrangements.

“It must be understood that in the event of an FMD incursion in Australia, regardless of where the outbreak was detected that the entire trade would be shut down until our trading partners were confident of our disease status, which could take many months.”

“This would obviously have catastrophic impacts on all Australian woolgrowers.” Ms Hall said.

The recent detection and destruction of FMD infected products at our border highlight the vigilance that must be upheld by both government and individuals.

Ms Hall said WoolProducers wrote to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud late last year calling for tougher penalties for people caught trying to bring prohibited products into Australia.

Mr Littleproud has since announced tougher measure for travellers not declaring meat and plant products when they enter Australia, after FMD virus particles were found in some processed meat products at Australian airports.


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