National tag system no silver bullet for FMD

Members of the state’s peak agricultural body have voted to support the development of a national electronic tagging system.

On Tuesday, the state government announced it would support a national electronic tagging system for sheep and goats in response to the threat posed by foot and mouth disease.

NSW Farmers Biosecurity Chair Ian McColl said while electronic tagging could be helpful, it would not be a silver bullet for the threat posed by FMD.

“Our members voted to provide in principle support for the development of a national individual traceability system for sheep,” Mr McColl said.

“However, this national system must have jurisdictional harmonisation, be affordable, and be developed in consultation with producers.

“Traceability reforms must ensure that the costs are effectively shared throughout the supply chain and with government.”

Australia remains free of many significant pests and diseases, which provides a competitive edge in global markets, but it is dependent on a strong biosecurity system.

Mr McColl said recent outbreaks of both Lumpy Skin Disease and Foot and Mouth Disease in Indonesia had created an increased risk of a severe biosecurity incursion in Australia. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) modelling projected a widespread FMD outbreak in Australia would have an estimated direct economic impact of around $80 billion. 

“In the event of a biosecurity disaster such as an FMD outbreak, effective tracking would enable authorities to enact preventive measures promptly and minimise an outbreak,” Mr McColl said.

“But we must remember this is not something that will replace strong biosecurity controls at our borders, and our members remain concerned about returning travellers and requirements at our airports.

“We are encouraged that governments are listening to industry and moving controls in the right direction, but we must do everything possible to keep FMD out of Australia.”

Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]