Providing practical information to help you protect your farm from biosecurity risks

Biosecurity proves its worth

April 2, 2014
Current biosecurity practices can reduce expected losses from an FMD outbreak to $10 per hectare for cattle producers

Current biosecurity practices can reduce expected losses from an FMD outbreak to $10 per hectare for cattle producers

The importance of the biosecurity manuals and other online tools on the Farm Biosecurity Program website was reinforced following new findings that have recently quantified the impact of a foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Australia.

Based on Australia’s 2014-15 farm production forecast of $50.5 billion and export forecast of $38.4 billion, it is estimated that an outbreak of FMD in Australia would cost $62 per hectare for cattle producers and $172 per hectare for sheep producers.

Current biosecurity practices, however, can reduce expected losses from an FMD outbreak to $10 per hectare for cattle producers and $26 per hectare for sheep producers according to Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES)’ Chief Economist, Michael Harris.

The findings, which revealed that the current management of biosecurity in Australia is successfully protecting producers’ profits and maximising market access, were presented at  ABARES 2014 Outlook conference earlier last month.

At the conference, Mr Harris showcased how biosecurity adds value to Australia’s producers by reducing risks of incursions both nationally and from overseas.

“We’ve taken that a step further and looked at how the current management of the biosecurity system has reduced the risk of an incursion and put a value on that.

“Extending this to a per farm analysis, allowing for different farm types, we find expected losses avoided per farm range from $3,000 each year for cropping specialists to $11,000 each year for pastoral sheep-beef producers. These numbers increase when other pests are considered,” Mr Harris said.

With gross farm production forecast at $50.5 billion in 2014–15 and exports valued at $38.4 billion, Australia’s pest and disease status is directly linked to market access and farmgate returns.

Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary, Rona Mellor, said Australia’s biosecurity system was the foundation of access to many of Australia’s international markets.

“The system is designed to safeguard our agricultural industries and environment from pest and disease risks,” Ms Mellor said.

“Changes to our biosecurity status impact on our productivity, profitability – and our ability to export.”

Animal Health Australia’s (AHA) CEO, Kathleen Plowman, welcomed the latest findings from ABARE, which she said emphasises the direct benefits Australia’s biosecurity programs have for producers and across industry.

“Ensuring Australia’s biosecurity programs remain robust, targeted and effective is vital to keeping Australia pest and disease free.

“Through effective partnerships with members, industries and communities, AHA is able to continually improve national coordination and management of animal health and disease surveillance in Australia to meet current and future needs,” Ms Plowman said.

AHA’s Executive Manager, Biosecurity Services, Duncan Rowland said the Farm Biosecurity website has an array of tools, manuals, forms, videos and up-to-date news items to help producers contribute to Australia’s biosecurity success.

“Producers should visit the website to download the many free tools available. Importantly, producers should be downloading the biosecurity manuals,” said Mr Rowland.

“The biosecurity manuals explain how you can manage biosecurity risks and avoid diseases coming on to your property. Each manual is tailored to specific industry groups and should be your first reference point when looking to implement your own biosecurity plan,” said Mr Rowland.

Download biosecurity manuals for your industry here.