Australia's worldwide reputation as a reliable supplier of safe, risk-free agricultural produce just didn't happen by good luck. It came about by implementing fully actionable protocols that are of the highest standard anywhere in the world. Our close proximity to other Asian nations make it imperative that we are vigilant to ensure that exotic disease does not find its way to our shores.
To ensure our protocols are actionable and swiftly implemented, Biosecurity Queensland, part of the Queensland Government Department of Agricultural and Fisheries, recently conducted a response exercise to ensure that procedures can be quickly actioned in the unlikely event of a breakout.
Biosecurity Queensland Emergency Operations principal project officer Jed Taylor conducted the Roma Stock Standstill to ensure those involved in the physical supply chain were aware of department protocols.
"Foot and Mouth Disease is one exotic disease Australia really doesn't want. While there are stringent controls in place to stop it entering Australia, Biosecurity Queensland is not taking any chances and is planning for the worst," Jed said in his opening remarks.
Roma saleyards was the scene of a major exercise last week which saw the saleyards, livestock and property agents, and transport and government agencies working through all the steps associated with a FMD scenario.
Biosecurity Queensland partnered with Animal Health Australia, Maranoa Regional Council, Roma Saleyards and Maranoa District Disaster Management Group including the Queensland Police Service and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, to run a simulated stock standstill to test responses to a FMD incident.
Participants included Australian Livestock Markets Association chairman Ken Timms and Andrea Lethbridge from Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association, Maranoa Mayor Tyson Golder, as well key managers with Frasers Transport, and key operational managers from Landmark and Elders.
There was also excellent representation from all livestock agencies at Roma Saleyards as well as the staff who manage the livestock throughput at the yards
There was a presentation on FMD, documents were developed to deal with the specific scenario being tested, and the Roma saleyards were put through the steps involved in a standstill on a sale day.
"All 37 attendees were well engaged with great input and discussion around how to manage such a situation and some excellent ideas about planning at Roma Saleyards. Feedback about the day was very positive with a lot of support for the initiative," Jed said.
Biosecurity Queensland, with its AHA partner, plans to run similar exercises at other major livestock marketing facilities in northern Queensland later this year - yet to be confirmed.
Roma Saleyard manager Paul Klar said the enthusiasm of the attendees to be involved and aware of their responsibilities was first class and he gave assurances that the Roma Saleyards was well placed to manage any situation that may arise.
The hide market continues to cop a hiding on overseas markets. In 2104 the market was on a high, but now there is little demand and this year we have seen further decreases in prices paid for hides. The total value of Australian hides in 2018 was $330 million (HIS Market). Australia supplies over 80 per cent of our hides to China.
There are a number of factors for the current poor prices - the rise in synthetics in preference to leather, regulatory environment protocols in China impacting their processing capacity, higher wages and yes, competition from US with elevated levels of production. Hides from the US attract a higher value than Australian hides as a result of the extensive feedlot production system. I have been told that the price of hides can also be linked to a slowing worldwide economy where purchasing leather products in any form is somewhat subdued.
The best of the larger hides are averaging over $20. They would be off an animal over 350kg cwt from southern markets. The same hide in NSW would be worth under $20 and Queensland hides would be less again. No need to tell you what the smaller hides off lighter animals would be worth.
No doubt when the season breaks and supply becomes tight, like the beef market, the hide market will take a turn for the better for all.