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Australia launches foot-and-mouth disease awareness campaign

Staff writer |
Australian Agriculture Minister Leanne Donaldson launched a major foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) awareness campaign that urges Queensland’s livestock producers to do all they can to maintain Australia’s FMD-free status.

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“Raising awareness of the disease, and taking steps to prevent it entering and spreading, are critical,” the Minister said.

“An FMD incident anywhere in Australia would result in the immediate closure of our valuable livestock export markets and as Queensland has the largest beef industry in the country, we stand to lose the most.

“Producers have a critical role to play and to support them I am announcing free online training as part of a major awareness campaign.

“The online training includes crucial information for livestock owners about protecting their business and what to do if FMD is suspected.”

Minister Donaldson said globalisation and proximity to the Asia-Pacific region made Queensland Australia’s front-line state for biosecurity.

“We are vulnerable to many pests and diseases due to our climate and geography and with such a significant tourism industry we can never afford to drop our guard. International travellers and goods have been known to introduce pests and diseases,” the Minister said.

“Panama disease tropical race 4 in bananas, fire ants, and Hendra virus are recent examples of biosecurity threats which have serious impacts on our economy and environment.

“Strengthening biosecurity prevention and preparedness is a top priority for the Palaszczuk Government and should be the prime concern of everyone who owns or works with livestock.

“FMD is one of the biggest biosecurity threats we face. It is highly contagious with the potential to spread rapidly between cloven-hoofed livestock including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and deer, camels, llamas and alpacas.”

Minister Donaldson said it was estimated that a large multi-state outbreak could cost Australia more than $52 billion in lost revenue over 10 years.

Queensland exported just over $5 billion worth of beef in the past financial year alone, trading with more than 80 countries.

“If ever we get FMD, we will need to work closely with industry and the wider community to minimise the impacts. The awareness campaign will help to build knowledge and capacity within the industry.

“The free online training course, which takes about 40 minutes to complete, is a key element in spreading the prevention and preparedness messages and helping graziers, piggery operators and food outlets to play their part.

“It is aimed at increasing awareness of the threat among those who work in or with livestock industries and helping to prevent an incident in Queensland.

“We are also distributing a range of printed materials, including guides, brochures and fact sheets, designed specifically for livestock producers, retail food outlets and livestock supply chain industries.

“There are specific materials for piggeries and regional food outlets about the imperative not to feed swill to pigs.

“These materials have also been translated into Vietnamese and Chinese.

“A series of short videos has also been produced and we are encouraging producers and industry groups to use these videos at events, and to share them online and through social media to achieve the greatest possible reach.

Campaign materials will be mailed to more than 25,000 addresses.

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