The fight to keep FMD top of mind for travellers

18 July 2022

18 July 2022

TFGA Acting CEO Marcus McShane says “it is everyone’s responsibility to keep Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) from our doors.”

“We must ensure the risks of FMD stays top of mind for travellers and farmers alike, beyond the popular media cycle.”

“We ask that farmers needing additional biosecurity signage call our office on 6332 1800,” said Marcus.

For those who aren’t aware — FMD is a highly contagious animal virus recently detected in Indonesia and popular travel destination Bali, which can spread not only through contact with affected animals and animal products, but also on contaminated footwear and clothing.

Foot and mouth disease devastated the farming community in the United Kingdom during 2001. About 6 million animals were culled in an attempt to halt the outbreak. It was estimated to cost the UK more than $8 billion dollars. This would be just a drop in the ocean compared with the cost of an outbreak in Australia.

If FMD reaches Australia, we will immediately loose access our key export markets for meat, dairy and wool products. The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) has reported a small FMD outbreak, controlled within three months of initiation could cost the economy about $7.1 billion. A large outbreak controlled within 12 months could cost about $16 billion.

Few analysts are brave enough to estimate the number of animals that would need to be culled if the current FMD outbreak in Indonesia reaches our shores, but there is little doubt it would be in the millions.

The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) has mailed members with additional farm signage, on-farm biosecurity plans and crisis contact lists. We would like to thank the State Government contribution towards this project.

We have commenced a social media campaign lifting awareness for travellers about the contamination risk of ‘bringing FMD home’ to Tasmania. We are working constantly with various government departments about traveller screening and biosecurity preparedness.

The state government has boosted airport screening with an additional eight staff members and has increased border controls regarding parcels and goods incoming to our state.

Nationally the government is running a pilot program, where biosecurity officers board flights before they leave Australia to warn of the dangers and to encourage people to declare anything they deem risky.

There is resistance to footbaths in terminals for the chaos it would cause airports and the possible skin irritation for the flip-flop-wearing travellers.

Anyone with concerns that an animal has FMD should call the – all hours Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888

Media comment available: Marcus McShane TFGA Acting CEO

Media Enquiries: Hayley Stepchuk