June 10, 2022, 03.43 PM

KOMPAS.com- The New South Wales government has announced $164 million in funding to address growing biosecurity concerns that threaten the agricultural industry.

Outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) in Indonesia have the industry on high alert, according to the state’s Agricultural Minister Dugald Saunders.

Thirty properties and piggeries across the state have also recorded outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis (JEV).

The funding will go towards developing vaccines, improving surveillance and testing resources, and more effectively managing pests.

Also read: Learn to Milk a Cow at This Ecotourism Site in Jakarta, Indonesia

Saunders said it would improve the government’s capacity to respond to threats.

"Beefing up surveillance is one of the really important ways we can know if something comes in. We know where it gets to very, very quickly and we can lock it down," he said.

"The outbreaks in Indonesia mean we can no longer rely on our geographic buffer to keep our primary industries safe."

Currently, the only vaccines available for FMD and LSD involve live vaccines being brought into the country.

In doing so, Australia would be banned from exporting livestock to Japan, Korea, and China.

The minister said they are investigating the potential to create a mRNA vaccine for FMD and LSD which would allow livestock to be vaccinated against the disease while keeping trade open.

"We are hoping by the end of the year there will be some significant development around mRNA technology," he said.

"Everything is now on fast-track."

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the programs would help protect the agricultural industry.

"If you have a look at the last couple of years farmers have had a drought, fires, floods, Covid, a mouse plague," he said.

"We want to make sure biosecurity does not become the next big issue."

'Haven't got much support'

Japanese encephalitis has continued to spread across the state with 130 cases reported in pigs at 30 different locations.

Forbes pig farmer Richard Pool is currently experiencing an outbreak of the virus and has seen a "30-50 percent reduction" in profits.

Also readIndonesia Starts Vaccination Program for Cattle to Contain Lumpy Skin Disease

He said despite the significant financial impacts the disease is having on the industry there has been limited support from the government.

"I don't think too many people understand the effects or how the disease spreads or how long it has been here," he said.

"As a result, we have not got much support."

JEV causes issues with pregnancy in sows and a reduction in growth weight.

Saunders said the biosecurity funding would not provide direct funding to address farmers’ losses.

"I think on-farm support has been incredible," he said.

"It is not necessarily about funding though. It is about managing the stock. Funding doesn’t fix everything, care and support are what fixes the animals."

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