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Biosecurity

Overview

Australia is fortunate to be free of many livestock diseases that cause significant losses in other countries, such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). An outbreak of an emergency animal disease (EAD) such as FMD in Australia would have a massive impact on the wool industry. In the event of an EAD outbreak, there would be an immediate halt to exports of animal-related products including wool, that could last 6-12 months.

AWI helps to ensure that Australia has effective plans and tools in place to deal with disease outbreaks. We are working with other wool industry bodies, through the Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (FAWO), to ensure the industry and individual businesses are as well-prepared as possible in case the worst should happen.

FAWO, with the assistance of AWI, has developed a three-year Australian Wool Industry Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategy for 2016/17-2018/19. This strategy is an update of the first such plan, which spanned the preceding three-year period. The Plan aims to minimise disruption to flows of Australian wool to the world’s markets, should an EAD outbreak occur.

  Australian Wool Industry Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) Strategy for 2016/17-2018/19

 

Summary of the Australian Wool Industry EAD Preparedness RDE Strategy 2016/17-2018/19

Achievements of the Plan to date include:

  • Advances in traceability of wool through the pipeline
  • The development of resources to assist post-farm wool businesses to be EAD-prepared: including a template EAD Preparedness Plan and associated Guide to assist in its completion, and an online Biosecurity Risk Assessment Tool
  • The development of a prototype bale disinfection unit for use in wool stores
  • Revisions to Australia’s EAD response planning framework, AUSVETPLAN, to ensure wool enterprises will be managed as effectively as possible in the case of an outbreak
  • The development and delivery of a pilot training course in EAD preparedness for post-farm wool enterprises.

Current areas of activity include:

  • Further enhancement of wool traceability, by ensuring the Property Identification Code accompanies the wool right along the chain
  • Evaluation of the bale disinfection unit in the field
  • Research to understand the temperatures reached in wool bales, and therefore how quickly disease agents (such as viruses) are deactivated
  • A project to test a Bluetooth beacon that can collect the temperature and humidity of a wool bale as it is transported throughout the wool supply chain – from on-farm through to core sampling.

The Australian emergency animal disease response set out in AUSVETPLAN is maintained by Animal Health Australia. AUSVETPLAN is a series of technical response plans that describe Australia's approach to an emergency animal disease.

Resources for post-farm wool businesses

EAD Preparedness Plan for Businesses

AWI and FAWO have developed an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Preparedness Plan template suitable for use by post-farm wool handling facilities.

This template assists businesses to consider the likely impacts of an EAD outbreak on their business, and the steps that may be put in place to minimise these impacts should an outbreak occur.

The completed plan also works as a ‘go to’ reference document for the business should an EAD outbreak occur.

Two documents are available:

  • A blank template for completion by the business, and
  • A guidance document, which explains what can be expected in the case of an EAD outbreak and the rationale for including certain information in the response plan.

The template should be completed by appropriately qualified managers and reviewed by at least one other senior staff member.

The completed EAD Preparedness Plan for your business should be reviewed every 12 months, or earlier should there be significant changes to the risk profile of the business or the industry.

Biosecurity Risk Assessment Tool

Sound biosecurity management is important for any business dealing in animals or animals products. It would be critical in the event of an EAD outbreak to prevent movement of the disease and to give confidence to markets.

AWI and FAWO have developed an online Biosecurity Risk Assessment Tool to assist post-farm wool handling facilities to identify the biosecurity strengths and weaknesses within their business.

Completion of the tool generates a report with recommendations on how to make improvements in biosecurity, so that businesses can:

  • Reduce the risk of exposing workers to wool that may be contaminated by infectious zoonotic agents, notably anthrax and Rift Valley fever.
  • Ensure that any disease agent present on wool within a facility is not spread further, particularly to susceptible livestock.
  • Greatly reduce the risk that wool received at the facility will be contaminated.

For further information on any aspect of wool biosecurity contact Bridget Peachey at AWI on (02) 8296 3100 or bridget.peachey@wool.com.