The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath is encouraging livestock producers to update their farm biosecurity management plans to better protect their properties from a potential foot and mouth disease outbreak.
“The foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Indonesia is causing serious concern for our farmers and the wider community – we must all be on alert,” said Ms Bath.
“Every effort must be undertaken by all levels of government to stop the spread of FMD, but it’s also important for our farmers to utilise their farm entry for disease control and the community to understand the risks.
“The economic value of agriculture to the Victorian economy is $17.8 billion which is almost one third of Australia’s total agricultural value – an outbreak of disease would have devastating consequences on the animal welfare, food security and the economy.
“I am encouraging farmers to complete a biosecurity management plan if they haven’t already done so to minimise risk to animal welfare, their livelihood and food security.
“A robust biosecurity management plan should contain measures to identify, prevent, eliminate or minimise the biosecurity impacts relating to livestock.
“An important part of the plan includes visual signage on farm entry points about unauthorised farm trespass and informs authorised visitors they are entering a biosecurity zone.
“Given the high number of holiday makers returning from Bali and the federal government’s slow response in enacting border force biosecurity measures, I’m urging livestock producers to ensure their plans are in place if they haven’t already done so.”
“The protection of our international borders is a federal responsibility; however, every measure should be taken to add extra layers of protection at the state and local level.
“Our food and fibre producers can’t afford the comprehensive trade restrictions and the strict isolation protocols that would be enforced if an outbreak occurred.”
New laws saw on the spot fines introduced for farm biosecurity breaches came into force on 1 July after Ms Bath led The Nationals fight to fix farm trespass laws in Victoria.
Ms Bath said the while new farm trespass laws are not the cure, they add an additional layer of protection to help farmers keep disease out their properties.
“The current foot and mouth disease risk highlights the real need for Victoria to have legislation and penalties in place to protect biosecurity and deter any unlawful entry on our farms.
“Biosecurity plans make people think twice before entering a farm unlawfully or without permission.
“Farm trespass laws reduce risk, and every layer of protection is vital when it comes to stopping the spread of disease in livestock.
“State Nationals MPs are meeting with the Andrews Government’s Minister for Agriculture, Gayle Tierney today to call on the state government to beef up Victoria’s biosecurity measures.
“Labor’s continued apathy towards our farmers is shocking – the recent 145 jobs slashed from Agriculture Victoria has significantly weakened Victoria’s ability to respond to a disease outbreak.
“Every effort must be undertaken to fortify Victoria from foot and mouth disease, support our farmers and protect our livestock industry.”
For further information on developing a farm biosecurity management plan visit https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity