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Biosecurity plans and herd tests needed to maintain J-BAS score

Following the decision to maintain state-wide regulations for Bovine Johne’s disease (BJD), WA cattle producers are encouraged to complete an industry-compliant biosecurity plan by 30 June 2017 and a herd Check Test by 1 July 2018, to ensure smooth movement of livestock in the future.

WAFarmers Livestock Executive Officer Kim Haywood said the risk of cattle bringing BJD into the state had increased since the rest of the country chose to deregulate BJD management last year.

“All cattle properties in WA are currently recognised as J-BAS 8 (Johnes disease beef assurance score), following deregulation by the rest of the country,” Ms Haywood said.

“While this score does not give as much protection as the previous MN3 standards did, the revised conditions WA has in place are intended to give equivalent protection to MN3 under the pre-July 2016 conditions.

“To preserve the very low level of BJD in WA, the industry agreed to maintain border controls using J-BAS scores, but just having a biosecurity plan in place does not quantify the level of BJD on a property; producers must also complete a herd Check Test to clarify this.

“If producers do not complete the industry-compliant biosecurity plan plus do the herd Check Test, their J-BAS score will go to zero after July 2018 and it will take many years and a lot of money to get back to J-BAS 8.

“For a producer who has a J-BAS 0 score, they could find themselves locked out of key markets in the intervening years, thus impacting productivity and profitability to their business.”

Ms Haywood said the Cattle Industry Funding Scheme would commence targeted surveillance soon and cattle producers were encouraged to offer their herds for testing, as the scheme would cover the costs.

She also said completion of the biosecurity plan should not be seen as a daunting task.

“The plan is straightforward to complete and a cattle producer need only have a biosecurity discussion with their local vet,” she said.

“We strongly encourage all producers to complete the Animal Health Australia Grazing Manual Biosecurity Plan, as it is compliant to industry specifications, and this can be found on WAFarmers’ website.

“Doing the plan and the Check Test well ahead of the July 2018 deadline gives cattle businesses the assurances needed for interstate and international movements beyond that date, and will maintain their J-BAS 8 certification for a three year period.”   

This BJD program will give Western Australian cattle producers a sound edge over the rest of the states and territories.  

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