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Beyond the Bale : March 2017
Australia’s biosecurity framework is strong by international standards. However, prompted by foot-and-mouth and mad cow disease outbreaks in other countries during the past two decades, Animal Health Australia (AHA) and its members, notably the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, have sought to strengthen Australia’s biosecurity system. WOOL INDUSTRY’S EXPOSURE The Australian wool industry’s strong export orientation, absolute dominance of global fine apparel wool production, and efficient logistical systems are unique strengths and great achievements. However, they also pose a major risk to the global wool textile industry should Australia ever face an outbreak of an EAD affecting sheep, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), or sheep and goat pox. A number of these disease agents, such as FMD virus, can survive on greasy wool for a period of up to months, leading to a situation where shorn wool in bales is potentially infectious. Given the scale and efficiency of our logistical system, where bales of wool can be shorn in Queensland and sold and containerised for export in Melbourne within weeks, the post-farm gate aspects of EAD BEING PREPARED FOR TRADE IMPACTS OF EXOTIC DISEASES The Australian wool industry has a robust strategy to minimise the potential trade impacts on the industry if an emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreak was to occur. management are critical, and quickly take on an international trade dimension. “If history is a guide, our trading partners would immediately place a ban on imports of Australian wool and this ban would remain in place until each country’s authorities were satisfied that the wool posed no threat to their own national biosecurity,” said AWI General Manager Research, Dr Paul Swan. “In the recent past, other countries have had greasy wool exports banned for months. In our case, this would be enormously disruptive to the global supply chain, and would place enormous pressure on our domestic systems for ensuring rapid bale traceability, decontamination and disinfection – at a time disease control authorities would be very focussed on localising and eradicating the disease at farm level.” While scouring wool is known to kill the disease agents, there are currently only three wool scours in Australia, with a total scouring capacity of 15.5mkg, which is nowhere near sufficient to process Australia’s annual production of 240-245mkg greasy wool to meet demand in a timely way. An EAD outbreak would impose very substantial financial costs on the wool industry. The trade impact alone was estimated in 2013 by ABARES to potentially cost the Australian wool industry $2.2 billion over ten years, although the revenue losses would be relatively low for wool compared with other commodities such as meat and dairy. WOOL INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE It is clear that effective EAD prevention, a speedy response to an outbreak should it occur, and well-planned trade continuity measures are critical for the Australian (and indeed the global) wool industry. As a consequence, the Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (FAWO) with the assistance of AWI has developed a three-year Australian wool industry EAD preparedness research, development and extension (RD&E) strategy for 2016/17-2018/19. FAWO Chair Robert Ryan says this strategy is an update of the first such plan, which spanned the preceding three-year period. “Changes in this revised strategy take account of progress made under the first plan and some minor developments in the EAD operating environment,” Mr Ryan said. “The strategy aims to ensure that the wool industry has in place all the components of an effective EAD response. Just as importantly, it aims to establish in the industry the systems and culture that will ensure EAD preparedness is subject to an approach of continuous improvement. “In the event of an EAD, the goals would be to minimise disruption to flows of Australian wool to the world’s markets, and minimise reputational damage to the Australian industry. The aim would also be to achieve the most rapid possible return to normal business for woolgrowers, customers and others in the wool industry pipeline.” This strategy specifically addresses the shorn wool pipeline from farm to market; that is, it is concerned with the mitigation CONTINUED OVERLEAF (BOTTOM) The Australian wool industry’s emergency animal disease (EAD) preparedness research, development and extension strategy for 2016/17-2018/19 aims to minimise disruption to flows of Australian wool to the world’s markets, should an EAD outbreak occur. The previous EAD preparedness strategy won an Australian Biosecurity Award in 2014. Pictured are AWI’s Dr Paul Swan; FAWO Secretary, Bianca Heaney; FAWO Chair, Robert Ryan OAM. PHOTO: Steve Keough Photography ON FARM 41
In the Shops - March 2017