Charles Sturt University
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation

Graham Centre researchers Associate Professor Marta Hernandez-Jover and Dr Jennifer Manyweathers have shared their expertise at a workshop to prepare Australia for a major disease outbreak like FMD.

Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover and Dr Jennifer ManyweathersHosted by Animal Health Australia (AHA), the workshop in September was part of the Improved Surveillance, Preparedness and Return to Trade for Emergency Animal Disease Incursions Using FMD as a Model Project (The Project).

Principal Research Scientist at the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Dr Wilna Vosloo, said, “Australia is free from FMD due to our strict biosecurity measures. However, an outbreak of the disease would cost Australia’s livestock industries billions of dollars, mainly because of restrictions on the exports of animals and animal products.

“This Project includes a number of sub-projects, all of which are looking at different ways we can effectively prepare for, control and contain an FMD outbreak as efficiently and quickly as possible.

“In particular, these sub-projects involve studying vaccine options, demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships in animal health surveillance, improving outbreak modelling capability and developing tools that would assist in determining how farm-to-farm spread is occurring.

“The workshop allowed research and funding partners to come together and discuss the progress we’ve made.

“I’m pleased to report we’re on track, with some great work done in establishing the farmer-led surveillance study and gene sequencing to track the spread of the virus. We’ve also established a research project website and social media presence to keep everyone up-to-date,” said Dr Vosloo.

The Graham Centre’s role

The Graham Centre is involved in the Farmer-led Surveillance sub-project.

Professor Hernandez-Jover said, “We are seeking the participation of Australian producers in a pilot program demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships for improving livestock surveillance at the farm level, for endemic and emergency animal diseases.

“The rural community plays a vital role in biosecurity and partnership is essential for effective surveillance systems.”

As part of this research sheep, goat and beef producers are being asked to take part in an online survey.

“This online survey aims to build our knowledge about Australian producers, their animal health management, and attitudes towards surveillance for emergency animal diseases,” Dr Hernandez-Jover said.

“We want to investigate how producers can be better supported to improve on-farm profitability and animal health management, through innovative communication and extension approaches.”

Producers can take part in the survey by clicking on the links below:

The Project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia, through funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural Research & Development for Profit program, and by producer levies from Australian FMD-susceptible livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) industries and Charles Sturt University (CSU), leveraging significant in-kind support from the research partners.

The research partners for this project are CSIRO, CSU through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, supported by AHA.

For more information visit the projects website

Photos courtesy of Animal Health Australia.