Australia prepares to give 69 million sheep identities as fever and mouth fears grow

Australia will introduce a national identity card system for sheep and goats as it prepares for a potentially devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease that risks puncturing A$80 billion (US$55 billion) in its agricultural sector.

An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia in May spread to the popular tourist destination Bali this month, raising the possibility of the disease arriving. Australia.

Traces were discovered this week in Melbourne in an imported pork string product. Customs officers also confiscated a dried beef product containing bits of the disease at Adelaide Airport.

New South Wales Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said the discoveries provided a “frightening reminder of the need to step up our biosecurity controls”. He stressed that a national electronic identity system is needed for the country’s 69 million sheep to prepare for any outbreak.

David Stuat, who runs the Anna Plains station in Western Australia’s Kimberley Desert and has 200,000 head of cattle, said the industry was facing its biggest threat in the 20 years he’s run the 300,000-hectare estate.

“Foot-and-mouth disease is the most terrifying livestock disease in the world. I don’t remember any greater threat,” he said.

Andrew Henderson, who owns a small herd of Boer goats outside the New South Wales town of Yas, described the outbreak in Indonesia as the “biggest wakeup call” for the cattle industry in 30 years, since the previous Indonesian outbreak was contained.

He argued that the additional cost of tracking animals via electronic identification systems already in use for livestock had not been apparent to all sheep keepers in the past, but the threat of an outbreak changed their minds.

Henderson, who advises the government on agricultural policy, said the risk of FMD extends far beyond the red meat sector and poses a threat to export industries such as wool and dairy.

Think of that contribution to the economy. No stopping of trading for any special period of time [as long as] A few years, it will be very dangerous,” he said.

The spread of foot and mouth, a highly contagious disease that causes sores on the gums of cloven-hoofed animals, would be devastating to Australia’s rural economy. For the past two years, she’s had to deal with wildfires, Flood The rat plague as well as the struggle to find workers.

The Australian Bureau of Economics, Agricultural Sciences and Resources has estimated that the impact of the foot-and-mouth outbreak could be up to A$80 billion.

The cow-tagging system has long been used in Australia, but the sheep equivalent has proven unviable due to costs and the inability of technology to handle the country’s huge number of sheep, according to Bonnie Skinner, CEO of Sheep. Producers Association.

However, improvements in technology, cost reductions and the adoption of electronic sheep tags in some parts of Australia have paved the way for their adoption on a national scale.

The identity scheme is just one of several biosecurity measures being taken to stop the spread of disease. Australian airports have installed foot sanitizer mats for passengers arriving from Indonesia and could begin confiscating shoes from travelers from Bali.

These efforts and apparently successful containment of the spread varroa destructive bee parasite This year has raised hopes that foot-and-mouth disease could be avoided.

“I wouldn’t say I’m confident but I’m optimistic,” Stuat said.

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