The bovine Johne’s disease shake-up descended into some confusion as Animal Health Australia announced producers would not fall to a zero score if they didn’t have a biosecurity plan in place by June 30, while AgForce in Queensland announced it had won a three-month extension to complete plans.
The new rating level is significant - it means all producers will remain at a J-BAS 6 score, not zero. But Animal Health Australia denied there was an extension for completing plans beyond June 30.
The only relevant date now for a deadline though is October 1 when the Livestock Production Assurance accreditation is due, which will require a biosecurity plan.
It came after an urgent meeting of the board of the Cattle Council of Australia, which is pushing the Johne’s reforms to make biosecurity an on-farm matter.
The new changes were not announced until almost 5pm on Wednesday.
The Cattle Council of Australia Board said it had acted because of “a high degree of concern” that store sales could be affected in July as well as many producers not having a plan in place, under the previous conditions.
“The amendment is that herds with a transition score of J-BAS 7 or 8 will revert to a J-BAS 6 rather than J-BAS 0, if no on-farm biosecurity plan is in place by July 1, 2017,” the Council announced.
“The focus remains the same – cattle producers across Australia are urged to implement an on-farm biosecurity plan, and are encouraged to treat JD as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business.”
Meanwhile Animal Health Australia urged producers to get a biosecurity plan done by June 30, when the new system starts.
“CCA have taken on-board feedback and altered the J-BAS score to alleviate producer concerns regarding loss of domestic market sales,” said Dr Rob Barwell, acting executive manager biosecurity and product integrity services at AHA.
“This doesn’t change the focus of the new direction – cattle producers are still encouraged to treat JD as one of the many diseases they must manage within their business.
“We’d like to acknowledge all livestock stakeholders, including agents, for their excellent work in spreading the on-farm biosecurity message to Australian cattle producers – a message we’re keen for all invested parties to continue sharing.
“It’s important to remember that key to this new framework is the implementation of robust biosecurity practices; practices which will safeguard the profitability of the cattle producer,” says Dr Barwell.
He said to assist producers with developing their biosecurity plans, AHA has updated its Farm Biosecurity Plan page to include a range of biosecurity planning resources.
The same on-farm planning template can be used for the Livestock Production Assurance program and J-BAS, with producers who have a JD focus required to complete the optional JD questions.