Farmers fight foot-and-mouth threat

Debbie and Rod Richardson.
Debbie and Rod Richardson.

Local farmers are tightening biosecurity to protect their herds and keep foot-and-mouth disease out of Australia.

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

Following an outbreak in Bali, return travellers are being urged to help keep the disease from reaching Australia, even if it means throwing out shoes before they come home.

In an open letter to supporters on social media, farmers Rod and Debbie Richardson from Running Creek Beef near Beaudesert described the seriousness of the disease.

“As our Sahiwals are irreplaceable in Australia (we have the largest herd) we must do everything within our abilities to protect them and accordingly our farm,” wrote Debbie.

“For us it (FMD) could mean the last of the Australian Sahiwals to be seen in Australia and the loss of our stud herd.”

Debbie outlined new measures including for people who have travelled via Bali or Indonesia to advise them at least 48 hours before entering the property and for all visitors to wear sanitised, clean, enclosed footwear that has not been worn overseas.

She said visitors must thoroughly clean and disinfect vehicles which have travelled through Northern Australia since May and that visitors at major events like the 31 July Farm Gate Trail must provide their contact details and names of other farms they have visited that day.

“Any visitor or resident of a rural community whether having livestock or not can make a positive difference in upholding our good biosecurity status here in the Scenic Rim and around Australia,” she wrote.

Passionate local agronomist Brendan Magee, who works closely with farmers in Beaudesert and surrounds, spoke about how FMD would impact consumers.

“If foot and mouth turns up in Australia, infected herds will be completely terminated… you’re going to find an increase in your daily shop, tourism will probably slow again, that’s what happened in the UK,” he said.

“Be safe coming back from overseas – if you’re going to buy your knock-off pair of Gucci thongs in Bali, please leave them there. They’re not worth what it could do to the Australian economy, let alone the Australian farmers.”

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