Foot-and-mouth Disease Prevention and Preparedness Program

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is considered one of Australia’s greatest biosecurity threats.

Fortunately, this disease is not in Australia, however an incursion would have severe consequences for Australia’s animal health and trade. A confirmed case of FMD in a susceptible species would likely lead to immediate closure of our meat export markets for more than a year.

In 2022, ABARES estimated that a large FMD incursion across multiple states would have a direct economic impact of around $80 billion.

About the Foot-and-mouth Prevention and Preparedness Program

In late 2022, the NSW Government announced additional emergency animal disease (EAD) prevention and preparedness measures, with a $65 million package focused on FMD.

As part of this package our staff designed and delivered a $22.83 million FMD Prevention and Preparedness Program in 2022-23.

The FMD Prevention and Preparedness Program worked to improve animal biosecurity across NSW and improve our preparedness, capacity and capability to respond to emergency animal diseases.

The program has achieved significant outcomes across the 3 key projects delivered:

  1. animal biosecurity
  2. cloven-hoofed vertebrate pest management
  3. emergency management.

The Foot-and-mouth Disease Animal Biosecurity Project

The animal biosecurity project focused on enhancing NSW’s animal biosecurity, specifically with the aim of improving FMD prevention and preparedness.

The project worked towards:

  • increasing community livestock disease reporting and passive surveillance activities
  • delivering extension and advisory services to key customers and stakeholders
  • upskilling biosecurity officers and private vets in animal health and EAD identification and investigation
  • increasing staff capacity and capabilities in animal biosecurity
  • defining and developing behaviourally informed outcomes focusing on best practice biosecurity.

Key 2022-23 achievements:

  • 1,564 one-on-one consultations with landholders related to animal biosecurity
  • 3,154 livestock disease investigations completed by Local Land Services (LLS) district veterinarians
  • 101 private veterinarians received training in EAD identification and investigation through 4 workshops in Armidale, Sydney, Wagga Wagga and Dubbo
  • 283 lab tests were subsidised from submissions by private veterinarians
  • 11,406 customers engaged through 375 extension and awareness raising events related to EADs
  • 42 LLS frontline staff received EAD investigation training through 4 face-to-face workshops delivered in partnership with Charles Sturt University
  • 2 behavioural research projects delivered to better understand barriers to and opportunities for producers reporting livestock diseases and implementing farm biosecurity plans.

Videos from our private vet EAD training workshop in Wagga Wagga are available to watch online.

The Foot-and-mouth Disease Cloven-hoofed Vertebrate Pest Management Project

The pest management project focused on reducing cloven-hoofed vertebrate pest animal numbers to limit the potential spread of FMD in the event of an incursion. This project works to:

  • increase our capacity and capability to deliver aerial shooting operations
  • give us a better understanding of cloven-hoofed vertebrate pest populations and the effectiveness of control programs
  • increase landholders’ capacity to effectively manage cloven-hoofed pests on their land
  • better position regional NSW to respond to an EAD outbreak
  • initiate coordinated pest management strategies across public and private land (nil tenure)
  • enhance our understanding of pest program strategies and their effectiveness
  • increase our knowledge of cloven-hoofed pest distribution, density and dispersal capabilities.

Key 2022-23 achievements:

  • 93,176 cloven-hoofed pests were culled
  • 13 ‘proof of concept’ local intensive pest control zone projects were delivered across the 11 LLS regions
  • 11.4 m hectares over 5,146 holdings participated in 138 coordinated control programs of which 68 were aerial
  • 6,538 kg of feral pig poison bait was issued to landholders
  • 2,570 views recorded for 12 new feral pig control videos available through a dedicated YouTube channel.

The project also developed a series of landholder focused feral pig management videos.

The Foot-and-mouth Disease Preparedness and Prevention Emergency Management Project

The emergency management project prepared and upskilled staff and stakeholders for an EAD incursion. This project worked to:

  • provide urgent operational capacity to support a broad range of initiatives to prepare for an FMD incursion
  • develop a fleet of specially designed EAD trailers that can be rapidly deployed in an EAD emergency
  • improve consistency and coordination across LLS regions to deliver initiatives to increase industry and emergency agency response readiness for FMD.

Key 2022-23 achievements:

  • 8 FMD livestock saleyard standstill exercises delivered
  • 5 purpose-built EAD rapid response trailers procured
  • 14,000 landholder emergency assistance cards distributed to customers
  • 349 staff received training in emergency management software platforms, with an additional 16 trained in emergency management data management.

The 2023-24 FMD Prevention and Preparedness Program - Phase 2

In 2023-24 $1.747 million has been allocated to Phase 2 of the FMD Prevention and Preparedness Program. Phase 2 will build on the 2022-23 activities and program outcomes and will work to further:

  • increase biosecurity measures, including extending passive surveillance activities
  • build LLS’ preparedness, capacity and capability to respond to an EAD outbreak
  • upskill staff in EAD identification and investigation techniques.

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