Sheep producers in the Riverina Livestock Health and Pest Authority district are being asked to decide how they are going to manage Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) in the future.
From the January 1, 2013, all areas will be classified as either Protected Areas or Control Areas.
The change comes under the revised National OJD Management Plan, being led by the Sheepmeat Council of Australia and Wool Producers Australia.
Landholders are being given a chance to decide which classification to take, through LHPAs.
A Control Area is where there are variable levels of OJD and producers manage their own disease risk, while a Protected Area is where the disease is rare or unknown and there is active management.
Riverina LHPA senior district veterinarian Dan Salmon said either option presents costs and benefits for producers.
He said they need to consider how the changes will affect their business, and have their say.
‘‘Ratepayers who run sheep north of Deniliquin through to the Lachlan have been sent a survey for them to vote on whether they wish to become a Protected Area or remain a Control Area,’’ he said.
‘‘South of Deniliquin we are to meet with ratepayers to see if there is interest in asking the question.’’
From discussions with landholders, Dr Salmon said locals seem to be leaning toward choosing the Protected Area status.
To be eligible as a Protected Area, there must be proof the the prevalence of OJD in the area is low.
A Regional Biosecurity Plan (RBP), which puts in place a number of ongoing processes and procedures to minimise the risk of disease entering a region, must also be developed.
Dr Salmon said a draft plan has already been created and, if landholders vote to become a Protected Area, will be completed and submitted in coming weeks.
It must be completed before the end of the month, with the new area classification to be implemented in January 1, he said.
Dr Salmon said it is important for all local landholders to vote on the classification.
Landholders north of Deniliquin were required to complete their survey on the decision by Friday.
Landholders to the south have until November 23, but Dr Salmon encouraged all landholders to ‘‘have a look and vote now’’.
For more information on voting, contact your local LHPA office and for more information on the National OJD Management Plan visit www.ojd.com.au.
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