Bruce Webb at the July Coolabunia fat and store sale.
Bruce Webb at the July Coolabunia fat and store sale. Tobi Loftus

South Burnett farmers frustration over biosecurity

SOUTH Burnett farmers have voiced frustrations at the implementation of new biosecurity measures.

A new score card system will rate farms from zero to eight based on their history of exposure to Johne's Disease.

Only farms with a seven or eight will be able to sell into the Northern Territory and Western Australia markets.

Cattle farmer Bruce Webb said the new system, which farmers had to score themselves, would be a burden on cattle farmers.

"There was an outbreak of the disease two or three years ago, it got into Queensland, God only knows how it did, but now we're going to have to monitor this ourselves,” he said.

"It's self regulation. Most of the people in the industry I've talked to don't want to have anything to do with this.

"Industry is driving this and I believe specific people are trying to make money out of this.”

The Johne's Disease measures are not Queensland Government measures, but Northern Territory and Western Australian measures, brought to Queensland by various industry groups.

Queensland farmers have to abide by the new system as there is a chance their cattle could end up in those locations.

Mr Webb said the new scorecard system was different to the current NILS tag monitoring system.

"With the NILS tags, people keep track of everything already,” he said.

"Half our competitors around the world don't have any monitoring.

"We have the cleanest, the best and the most monitored system of beef production in the world and now we are adding another level of bureaucracy.”

Several other farmers at the Coolabunia cattle sale on Tuesday voiced similar concerns to Mr Webb.

"It's been such a nightmare,” Mr Webb said.

"There will be people who leave the industry over this.”

The new scorecard system was supposed to be implemented by farmers in Queensland on July 1, but the date has been pushed back to October 1.

Johne's Disease is a chronic, incurable disease of adult cattle caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium paratuberculosis.

Symptoms include diarrhoea, reduced milk production, weight loss and eventually death.

The disease is mainly spread through ingestion of contaminated faeces making it an acute concern for feed-lotters and dairy farmers with cattle living in close proximity to each other.

With Michael Nolan

South Burnett

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