What is the industry/government cost sharing agreement?

Australia has initiated a world-first industry/government cost-sharing agreement that will boost our ability to respond quickly and effectively to animal disease outbreaks.

The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement sets out new cost-sharing arrangements between Australia’s Commonwealth, state and territory governments and livestock industries for the control, containment and eradication of 63 specific animal diseases. The management of the agreement is the responsibility of Animal Health Australia.

The diseases are classified into four categories, depending on the level of potential harm, from possible human health implications, to likely socio-economic, environmental and production effects. New diseases can be added to the agreement.

As well as providing immediate funding to quickly contain the spread of a disease outbreak, a primary objective of the agreement is to provide an incentive for people to notify and report diseases. The incentive to report is that full market value compensation will be paid for any livestock destroyed as a result of an outbreak.

The cost-sharing agreement also ensures that, for the first time, industry will be directly involved in making the decisions about how Australia responds to animal disease outbreaks.

A high-level committee comprising government and livestock industry representatives will decide response plans and budgets and monitor expenditure during an animal disease emergency.

This committee, the Emergency Animal Disease National Management Group (NMG), will also take responsibility for decision making on policy and resource allocation issues.

Technical representatives from affected industries will also join government veterinary officials in the Consultative Committee on Emergency Animal Diseases (CCEAD). CCEAD advises the NMG on the national response to an emergency disease outbreak.

Disease prevention and preparedness is also an important part of the agreement, with government and industry committed to improving biosecurity practices through a new National Disease Risk Mitigation Program.

Under the program, industry bodies are required to prepare and promote biosecurity plans which include helping producers to adopt simple on-farm measures to minimise the risk and spread of disease.

When reporting suspicious signs of disease, producers should also take steps to prevent the spread of disease such as isolating suspect livestock and banning visitors from the farm.

But the responsibility for good biosecurity does not rest with producers alone.

Under the Disease Risk Mitigation program, governments are also required to publicly outline their biosecurity policies and programs on issues including feral animals, public health and environmental policies.

The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement is an important part of maintaining a professional and contemporary animal health system in Australia.

It not only protects our $16 billion dollar livestock industries, but also provides confidence to international trading partners that Australia is serious about maintaining its enviable disease-free status.

Other countries and consumers will judge Australia’s animal health status on its ability to manage emergency animal disease outbreaks quickly and effectively.