PRODUCERS, stock handlers, private and government vets and animal health policy-makers will receive first-hand insight into dealing with Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) thanks to the Coalition government’s $491,000 investment for training in Nepal.
Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce has encouraged industry groups that sit on the frontline of managing an FMD outbreak, to participate in the training.
“A key part of our effectiveness to respond to emergency animal diseases is having trained people across industry who are our eyes and ears on the ground,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
“This training is giving them invaluable experience in Nepal, a country where FMD is endemic.
“Seeing FMD up close and personal, including the symptoms and warning signs, will help them better understand the disease and what an outbreak could mean for Australia.
“Having more participants undertake this training, run by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, will help strengthen Australia’s ability to manage and respond to an FMD outbreak.”
Mr Joyce said the FMD training was a key measure of the government’s biosecurity surveillance funding delivered in the $4 billion Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.
He said since September 2013 the Coalition government had invested $1.1 million into the program, which was co-funded with industry and state and territory governments.
This has enabled 120 people to undergo training in Nepal, spanning across the pork, dairy, sheep, wool and beef industries, he said.
Mr Joyce said people undertaking the FMD training would be subject to strict biosecurity screening on their return to Australia, “as are all people and goods arriving in our country”.
"An FMD outbreak would have devastating impacts on our valuable livestock industries, shutting down livestock movements, curtailing exports and savaging our trading reputation,” he said.
“A large outbreak of FMD is estimated to cost Australia more than $50 billion over 10 years.
“Australia has an internationally recognised capability to deal quickly and effectively with emergency animal disease outbreaks.
“Training industry members in Nepal is vitally important to equip participants with the skills and experience to recognise and report FMD symptoms and ensure we can act as quickly as possible should the need ever arise in this country.
"Australia remains free from FMD and we are doing all that we can to keep it that way, but you have to plan for the worst and ensure you are ready to respond.”