UPDATE: A SIX-MONTH delay to a new national Ovine Johne's Management Plan is an insult to producers, an industry leader says.
Australia's top sheepmeat and wool producer bodies today backed off on a proposed January 1, 2013 start date for the plan, extending a transition period to July 1 2013.
WoolProducers Australia and Sheepmeat Council of Australia said the six-month extension would provided time for issues such as the proposed plan's lack of recognition for vaccinates to be considered and addressed.
"Both councils are committed to implementing a practical and technically sound plan to reduce the spread of the sheep wasting disease OJD. "
But chairman of a National OJD Steering Committee, Frank Tobin, said the plan should have been delayed 12 months and plans for biosecurity areas should be shelved.
"I think it is an absolute insult to the needs of the sheep industry," he said.
Both WPA and SCA said they continued to strongly support the use of vaccination as a management tool in the control of OJD, but Mr Tobin said the six-month extension still left producers in "no-man's land" as to whether to vaccinate lambs under six months for trading to continue over the next 12 months.
The joint WPA and SCA decision came after increasing industry pressure to review or delay the plan's January 1, 2013 start date, or maintain the current assurance-based program with vaccination credits and eventually deregulate OJD control.
In the past three weeks the unpopular plan that would have divided Australia's sheep area into protected or control areas has been undermined by:
- A November 15 Australian Wool Innovation-sponsored meeting asking for the proposed plan to be delayed indefinitely and OJD control deregulated;
- the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Victorian Government stating it would not regulate the boundaries of the plan's biosecurity areas;
- The New South Wales Merino Stud Breeders passing a motion of no confidence in AHA's management of OJD and;
- Last week the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) calling for a review of the proposed scheme.
The Victorian Farmers Federation applauded the six-month delay.
"This is great news for sheep producers," VFF Livestock president Ian Feldtmann said.
"It gives us the time to come to a more sensible solution.
"I'd like to thank the 556 sheep producers who signed our petition opposing the new rules and all those who attended our OJD forums. As they say it's a victory for common sense."
The rules would have meant Victorian sheep producers could no longer gain access to South Australia and other "protected" areas by claiming credit for vaccinating their flocks against OJD.
"It would have meant Victorian sheep producers would have to prove their flocks had tested negative to OJD, if they want to trade into South Australia and other regions with a low prevalence of the disease that had been declared 'protected'," he said.