SHEEP producers are being urged to sign a petition calling for the introduction of new OJD management rules to be delayed.
The Victorian Farmers Federation last week launched the petition at an Edenhope forum, to be sent to the National OJD Management Committee, ahead of a major sheep industry meeting in Sydney tomorrow.
The new rules, which come into effect in January, would restrict the trading of sheep from control areas (of medium to high disease prevalence) into protected areas (low prevalence).
The petition - which seeks to delay the introduction of the new rules for six to 12 months - also seeks recognition of vaccination programs as a means of gaining direct trade access between protected and control areas.
Australian Wool Innovation will hold a meeting to examine the proposed changes in Sydney tomorrow.
"About 100 sheep industry representatives had been invited to attend," AWI spokesman said.
"The purpose of the meeting (is) to provide producers with information and the science behind the new rules.
"The meeting will present the information about the new rules, but then it is up to industry to debate them."
Ouyen wool producer Kevin Crook, an organiser of the northwest OJD protected area biosecurity plan, said there was a groundswell of opposition to the new rules.
Mr Crook said the three infected OJD lines found through abattoir surveillance in West Wimmera Shire recently had ruled out the municipality's inclusion in the proposed northwest OJD protected area before the area's boundary was finalised.
VFF livestock president Ian Feldtmann said the federation had received a lot of feedback from sheep producers concerned about the new OJD rules who wanted more consideration given to vaccination.
"Producers are confused and we think the introduction of the new rules needs to be delayed to allow for more consideration," he said.
Mr Feldtmann said the VFF, through representation on Sheepmeat Council of Australia, "strongly raised our concerns" at the last meeting of the national OJD management committee.
He declined to say if a vote was then taken on the issue, but "the end result was that the management committee decided to go forward with the new rules".
"While we respect the decision, we feel it now needs to be reconsidered and think at least a six-month delay is needed," Mr Feldtmann said.