The federal government is boosting its technical expertise to Indonesia to help in the battle against devastating livestock diseases foot and mouth and lumpy skin.
The government has launched a $1.4 million project to provide Australian expertise in-country to help our neighbours in the ongoing fight.
A departmental veterinary officer will be seconded to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation office in Indonesia from next month.
That officer is to provide a ready conduit between Indonesian and Australian experts.
The government said the project represents a step up in integrating Indonesian, international and Australian efforts in what would be a long-term response effort.
In 2021, beef and veal were Australia's second largest agricultural export (totalling $9 billion in value).
Feeder cattle were Australia's tenth largest agricultural export (totalling $1 billion in value).
Australia's chief veterinary officer, Dr Mark Schipp said the project would be delivered by the FAO in partnership with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture operating out of the MOA offices in Jakarta.
"LSD and FMD present the most significant threats to Australia's biosecurity integrity in decades," Dr Schipp said.
"Providing on-ground technical support in Indonesia will help to mitigate the risks of the disease spreading in the region," Dr Schipp said.
"This project will improve the ability to detect, control and prevent FMD and LSD in Indonesia and strengthen the capacity of national and local governments to arrest the further spread of these diseases.
"It will also allow livestock farmers and stakeholders to use best practices for prevention and control of FMD and LSD and improve communications between the Indonesian government and farmers," he said.
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"Australia remains free from both FMD and LSD."
Government economists have estimated the cost of a multi-state foot and mouth disease outbreak in Australia at a whopping $80 billion.
Dr Schipp said it was critical Australia continued to support our close neighbours to prevent or respond effectively to these diseases.
"Helping our close neighbours in this way also has a flow-on protective effect to Australia and other countries in our region.
"Our strong partnerships with countries such as Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste is providing an opportunity for us to work together on issues of regional concern and also helps to safeguard our respective agriculture sectors and the industries on which they rely.
"This is one more way we are working to make sure our biosecurity system continues to protect the prosperity of our farmers, producers, and rural communities."
The project, funded via the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is part of the $10 million biosecurity support package for Indonesia announced last year.
This funding has seen extra frontline biosecurity officers employed, the donation of four million doses of FMD vaccines to Indonesia, the redeployment of detection dogs to northern airports and the introduction of sanitation foot mats at all international airports with flights from Indonesia.
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