A foot and mouth disease incursion in Australia would cause an immediate national livestock standstill, and that would include wool.
As reports surfaced last week of over 60 cases of FMD in Bali, the industry debilitating disease is now closer to Australia's northern border than it has been in 30 years.
The fresh threat has also brought to light the profound difference in time and traceability between a mob-based identification system and electronic tag system.
In May 2018 the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) tasked SAFEMEAT with developing a range of reform recommendations to enhance the existing national livestock traceability system.
The nationally agreed approach for the response to emergency animal disease (EAD) incidents in Australia is AUSVETPLAN.
And the AUSVETPLAN is underpinned by the national livestock identification system (NLIS).
SAFEMEAT chair Andrew Henderson said there there is huge significance to the fact every state in Australia other than Victoria is under a mob-based identification system.
"The identification system is the core premise of how quickly and effectively the industry will be able to trace the infected animals," Mr Henderson said.
"The more accurately the industry is able to do that, the quicker it will be able to isolate where the incursion took place.
"A mob-based or visual identification system is vastly less accurate because it is paper based - there is always the opportunity for human error.
"As sheep move through the supply chain, the cohort they interact with will get big really quickly so it puts a lot of pressure on the contract traces - the people that are responsible for tracing and tracking those animals back through the supply chain
"It means that they go from dealing with 100s to 100,000's really quickly. It completely blows out."
By comparison, he said in an electronic system industry would be more accurately able to identify more quickly and with less resources where those sheep not only came from, but who they interacted with along the supply chain.
"It would give industry a much greater capacity to be able to isolate and identify those cohorts that they interacted with and isolate them," he said.
"There is certainly a big difference between the two systems.
"Reevaluating how producers think about traceability is really important because until they do that it is just a system that they think is making them put a more expensive tag in their ear."
He said wool was not isolated from the effects of an FMD outbreak.
"The moment there is an incursion identified there will be a national livestock standstill - everything stops and that includes wool," Mr Henderson said.
"All market access and wool exports would stop and it will stop for as long as it needs to stop before a determination by officials that the outbreak is effectively contained.
"The impact on the wool industry and the broader wool supply chain would be as profound as it would be on the livestock supply chain."
About 98 per cent of the Australian wool clip heads overseas, and in livestock about 70pc is exported, depending on the year-on-year average turn-off.
The value of the two commodities is fundamentally underpinned by export market access.
And now, Mr Henderson said FMD hitting Bali literally "changes the game".
"The outbreak in Bali means that our systems at the border, in terms of our bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, now really steps up a notch," he said.
"And simply because of the flow of people and passengers from to and from the two countries. The last time FMD was this close was back in the 80s and we low live in a very different world than we did back then.
"Australia was able to successfully corporate with Indonesia at that time to eradicate FMD and stop the threat before it got to our shores."
Nowadays however, there are dramatically increased passenger movements and much larger tourism industry than there was in the 80s.
The moment there is an incursion identified there will be a national livestock standstill - everything stops and that includes wool- Andrew Henderson, SAFEMEAT
He said Australia is relying on those that have travelled to an infected area to do the right thing.
"We are relying on people, when they go to Bali on a holiday during this period of time, that they don't interact with livestock, but also they make sure they take the appropriate precautions," Mr Henderson said.
"That's incumbent also on our border officials and our biosecurity officials in making sure those messages are delivered.
"We have one of the world best and stringent biosecurity systems and it can have a lot of confidence in that.
"But the reality is we have to be prepared for the likelihood that this will happen.
"We simply cannot say that a foot-bath at the border and stopping passenger movements is going to save us."