A review into BJD management has been brought forward a year.Despite the national Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD) review forum being titled ‘Where to from here’, Victorian cattle industry stalwart Don Lawson, Mansfield, is sceptical regulations will move at all.
Mr Lawson made a submission on behalf of the Australian Johne’s Alliance to National BJD Strategic Plan Review that will ramp up with a forum to be held in Sydney next Monday.
Mr Lawson said he was concerned the review would be high-jacked by bureaucrats supportive of the existing system, which relies heavily on zoning generally along jurisdictional lines plus various forms of regulatory intervention.
“There are too many snouts in the trough; producers are up against a whole Johnes industry and bureaucrats who have a job because of it,” he said.
“And as far as these bureaucrats are concerned, people don’t matter.”
He expressed concern that the “well overdue” review forum was just a way for these organisations including State agricultural departments and Animal Health Australia (AHA), to check off consultation, regardless of whether they take what they hear from beef and seedstock producers, and other support industries.
Mr Lawson is frustrated that there were no submissions from any of the State bodies responsible for BJD management, nor from Cattle Council of Australia, the Victorian Farmers’ Federation nor Agforce (Queensland).
In Mr Lawson’s submission on behalf of Australian Johne’s Alliance, he contends BJD management should be handed back to producers, for them to deal with as they do pestivirus, vibriosis and leptospirosis, via risk-based trading, which he said would provide massive savings to both governments and producers.
He also urges those responsible for the current movement-restricting policies be subjected to a judicial enquiry to ensure adequate and proper compensation is paid to producers and their families “who have suffered as a result of these failed and flawed policies”.
Mr Lawson said he would like to see a system in which producers who are proactive in managing BJD are rewarded and “not destroyed as is the case at present”.
He argues BJD has minimal impact at the farm or international trade level.
He said the current system was further undermined by the lack of reliable testing and surveillance.
He is calling for an independently conducted cost benefit study that looks at both the economic and social impacts, particularly on farming families, and for the results to be made public.
Breeding groups, industry BJD action groups and individual processors including those whose herds have been quarantined in Queensland in recent years and have suffered huge financial and other losses as a result, made the majority of submissions to the review.
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