THEY are three words that Gippsland farmers never want to hear consecutively, but GippsDairy’s Tony Platt is determined to talk about foot-and-mouth.
Tony recently travelled to Nepal where he studied with the European Commission for Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD).
The program selects veterinarians, industry personal and farmers to be trained in better recognising the disease and applying appropriate biosecurity measures should a country have an outbreak.
Now back in Australia, Tony wants to spread the word to ensure the disease can never spread through one of the world’s most productive agricultural nations.
The GippsDairy extension coordinator is offering to talk to any interested group in a bid to raise awareness of the biosecurity threat posed by FMD.
Tony’s experience in Nepal, where farmers have to constantly endure the economic cost of outbreaks, has reinforced his belief that biosecurity measures need to be respected by every person crossing Australia’s borders.
“Our quarantine measures are the only thing stopping us from getting this and we all have a role to play in keeping it off our shores,” he said.
“The main thing for people entering Australia is to respect our quarantine laws.
“Declare everything, even if it’s just to be safe rather than sorry, and clean anything that may have mud or dirt on it.
“By talking about FMD and raising awareness about biosecurity in the wider community, it reduces the chances of people inadvertently breaching our quarantine laws.”
A highly contagious viral disease, FMD is characterised by fluid-filled blisters and erosions in the mouth, nose, teats and feet.
Although not usually lethal in adult animals, it causes serious production losses and has the potential to cost Australian farmers billions of dollars.
Endemic in some parts of the world, FMD has not been recorded in Australia since 1872, when an outbreak in Werribee was controlled more by good luck than good management.
Keeping Australia free from the disease, which only affects cloven-hooved animals including cows, sheep, pigs and goats, is one of the biggest priorities of the nation’s agriculture and biosecurity sectors.
Tony is available to speak to community or industry organisations about the lessons learnt as part of his EuFMD training program.
Contact Tony on 0477 440 339 or firstname.lastname@example.org