The inaugural Farm Biosecurity Award has been hailed a huge success. An outstanding field of nominations resulted in two deserving winners – Swift Australia and Flockowners of Broken Hill.
The two winners were ultimately awarded for their demonstrated commitment to biosecurity and for the positive outcomes they have achieved by implementing simple biosecurity measures. The top 10 entries were outstanding and it was very difficult to narrow it down to just two winners.
Swift Australia, Australia’s largest meat packer, meat exporter and lot feeder won the award for its companywide quality assurance biosecurity program, recently implemented to support the security of its business. The company employs over 7,000 people nationally and provides products to more than 50 countries across the globe. Swift’s biosecurity program encompasses simple but very effective measures such as the visitor risk assessments, provision of biosecurity protective clothing where necessary, staff training and the assessment of livestock entering its properties. It is these practices that made the company a stand out in the extremely competitive Farm Biosecurity category.
The second award was presented to the Flockowners of Broken Hill for their cooperative effort in preventing ovine Johne’s disease (OJD) from entering their region. In 1997, Broken Hill’s flock owners decided to work together to keep out OJD as they saw the disease sweeping across cooler, wetter areas of NSW and Victoria, resulting in significant market losses for those affected. The flock owners implemented biosecurity measures to demonstrate that their flocks had little or no risk of being infected and raised awareness of OJD and measures to prevent it when introducing sheep. The work undertaken by this group is voluntary and their commitment has ensured no Broken Hill flock has been infected.
Swift Australia and Flockowners of Broken Hill were presented the award at a gala dinner in Canberra on 19 September with each winner received $2,000 and a hand crafted glass trophy. Congratulations to both winners!
Other finalists for the Farm Biosecurity Award were:
CropSafe Program Team (Epsom, Victoria) – CropSafe aims to report and diagnose biosecurity issues and has developed a model that many sectors could emulate. CropSafe is a collaborative effort that harnesses the knowledge, shill and goodwill of hundreds of field agronomists to act as the ‘first detectors’ of potential exotic pest and disease incursions. The CropSafe team operates as a passive biosecurity surveillance and awareness building network covering the vast majority of the Victorian grains belt, it has also invested into providing free diagnosis and education.
Liz & Piers Benwell (Lower Chittering, WA) – Initially aiming to gain organic certification for their farm, Liz and Piers Benwell discovered the need to maintain adequate farming biosecurity measures, including protecting the farm from pests and disease, limiting animal movements and visitor control. By implementing their strategies, the Benwell’s also discovered how much easier it was to maintain their certified organic status, giving them motivation to continue to implement more biosecurity measures and give them the room and confidence to grow as a business.
The Farm Biosecurity Award is a category of the Australian Rural and Outback Awards, and is a key element of the Farm Biosecurity program, a joint initiative of Animal Health Australia and Plant Health Australia.