Anti BJD sentiment at Casino

Protest meeting at Casino to oppose JBAS


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'Unneccessary red tape' associated with new Bovine Johnes Disease biosecurity has the capability of destroying seedstock providers says regulation opposition.

'Unneccessary red tape' associated with new Bovine Johnes Disease biosecurity has the capability of destroying seedstock providers says regulation opposition.

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Producer concern at Bovine Johnes Disease regulation to be debated at a meeting in the Casino Civic Hall, Monday 10am.

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A beef industry forum at Casino Civic Hall next Monday morning will not be a quiet affair, if previous hearings in the Summerland city count as precedent.

A beef industry forum at Casino Civic Hall next Monday morning will not be a quiet affair, if previous hearings in the Summerland city count as precedent.

Central to debate will be the imposition of managing the new Johnes Disease Assurance Score  (JBAS) on the part time North Coast producer.

Inaugural CEO of Australian Meat Holdings John Gunthorpe, a member of the BJD Action Coalition, will be attending keen to voice disapproval of the way Bovine Johnes Disease has been bureaucratised and to rattle the Cattle Council’s cage by calling for a new structure.

“This slow moving disease has been in the industry a long time,” he said. And yet producers affected with false-positive results had been ruined. “These properties were quarantined because they purchased bulls from an infected herd up to 10 years earlier.”

Unfortunately, previous efforts to hand back ownership of disease management to the producer, which was seen as a good thing, had become mired in red tape. “We argued for the disease being handed back to farmers but we did not agree to JBAS.”

Guest speaker and veterinarian Dr Peter Carter, Wellington, says the new rulings were a ‘gross over-reaction’ considering estimates from Cattle Council and Dairy Australia figures showed of the 64,000 herds in Australia only 179 showed signs of BJD between 2003-2013.

Of greater concern, current testing for BJD is technically buggered from the outset because of the prevalence of ‘false positives’.

Of blights that cause concern for cattle, Dr Carter said bloat was of far greater importance. “There are only a small number of animals affected and yet we are treating it like foot and mouth disease. We need to treat it for what it is.

“Having a biosecurity plan is a good thing, but when it is totally related to BJD, that is a problem.”

Sales of Wagyu/ Angus first cross feeder steers to Japan last year returned as testing positive when they had passed muster before leaving Australia.

The implications for smaller producers are potentially enormous, he says.

“If an outfit geared to selling seedstock suddenly tests positive, they’re stuffed,” Dr Carter said.

Memories of suicidal sheep producers in the 1990s, broke and dealing with decades-long management of BJD still haunt Dr Carter.

“I come from the school of old books and we went to the extra length to determine if cattle had BJD. The only definite test on an animal is to kill it and do a post mortem: take a sample from the bowel, stain that tissue and test it. This becomes a problem if you’re dealing with a stud animal. Again the axe falls on the people.”​

Unnecessary red tape for a slow  problem

Casino Auctioneer’s Association under president Matthew McCormack has sponsored Monday’s meeting, 10am at the Civic Hall, primarily to assist the number of clients that have expressed concern about JBAS and biosecurity measures now expected of them from government.

Recent information sessions from Local Land Services had not quashed concern.

“I’ve had clients say to me that if they sign those documents then they might as well not bother to farm,” Mr McCormack said. “It would be impossible to monitor the activities of everyone who comes on your property. What about the electricity providers and weed officers?”

Meanwhile, the Cattle Council is expected to receive a verbal blasting from the likes of BJD Action Coalition member John Gunthorpe, who will call for a new organisation to represent their interests and manage the grass-fed cattle levies paid by them. 

“Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) as a subsidiary of the state farming organisations has failed our industry and forfeited any right to speak for Australia’s cattle producers,” Mr Gunthorpe said.

“Industry members are frustrated with the inability of CCA to manage their responsibilities under the Red Meat Industry Memorandum of Understanding.  CCA is dysfunctional as displayed with the CEO throwing in his job after only 10 months in the role.

“CCA and AgForce worked with the LNP Queensland Government in 2013 to introduce the Protection Zone Policy to manage BJD.  They were responsible for the delivery of more than 200 quarantine notices to Queensland cattle producers leading to financial losses and personal stress for those poor individuals.

“Now CCA, through their biosecurity representative, Justin Toohey, at the recent Yulgilbar Beef Expo, describe the damage caused by their Protection Zone Policy as an “overkill”.  What they failed to say is that they supported its adoption.

Of interest: There were no questions from the audience when Mr Toohey spoke on the subject at the recent Yugilbar Beef Expo.

The story Anti BJD sentiment at Casino first appeared on The Land.

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