April 9, 2013
Last week’s National OJD Management Plan Industry Forum focused on simplifying the National Sheep Health Statement (SHS), without an ABC points scheme, under a series of recommendations agreed to by producer and industry groups. Although the recommendations have not yet been made public, Sheepmeat Council Australia (SCA) president Ian McColl said “the revised SHS should provide the relevant information required by purchasers to take responsibility for assessing disease risks and for making informed biosecurity decisions”. Discussions focused on improving and simplifying the SHS, so that it acts as a risk assessment tool buyers can use to manage ovine Johnes disease (OJD) as well as a range of other risks. The forum last Thursday was convened by WoolProducers Australia (WPA) and SCA, and included representatives of the State Farming Organisations and livestock agents. Technical advice was provided by Animal Health Australia. Forum participants agreed the revised SHS would not contain an ABC points scheme. Producer feedback during the public consultation on the National OJD Management Plan also indicated that zoning should end. As there are no longer zones, the ABC system could not be continued, and participants recommended the new SHS be in use from 1 July 2013. The industry recommendations were provided on Friday to the SHS Working Group, a joint industry and government body, which is working with WPA and SCA to finalise changes to the SHS as quickly as possible.