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The Australian dairy industry has enacted the emergency animal disease team to coordinate the dairy value chain’s response to the heightened threat of foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease.

Representatives of the dairy industry’s farming, processing and research and development sectors — from Australian Dairy Farmers, Australian Dairy Products Federation and Dairy Australia — are part of this team.

Australian Dairy Industry Council president Rick Gladigau said the dairy industry and the Federal Government were “working together to prevent an incursion of FMD in Australia, not just from Indonesia, but from other countries as well”.

Mr Gladigau said the dairy industry supported the Federal Government’s increased surveillance and testing of meat and other animal products for FMD, both at the border and through targeted checking of retail outlets, as well as the amplified measures as recently announced.

“We have been working closely with the government every step of the way,” he said.

“We’re asking the government to throw everything at FMD, especially at our borders, and take all suitable measures to ensure that FMD does not enter Australia.

“Border checks of imported food products — in travellers’ luggage and retailers’ consignments — are vital because the main way FMD is spread worldwide is in food.

“It’s not just in footwear. It’s not only from Indonesia. Where the government can do more, then we look forward to them doing so.”

Mr Gladigau said some media outlets had reported that Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry testing had detected FMD in pork products at a Melbourne retailer when this was not the case. Viral fragments were detected — not the disease.

“We urge the media to use extreme caution in their reporting. Australia is free of FMD and LSD,” he said.

“These detections of viral fragments are a timely reminder that Australia needs the strictest biosecurity measures possible.

“There are no silver bullets for biosecurity. There is no one measure that works on its own.

“It’s everyone’s job to ensure emergency animal diseases do not enter Australia.

“Biosecurity is everyone’s business. We all have a role to play in protecting Australia’s livestock industry from pests and diseases.”

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences said a widespread FMD outbreak in Australia would have a direct economic impact of about $80 billion.

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