Dr David Beggs

The following is a summary, taken mostly from the MLA website, to help understand where biosecurity plans fit in to the bigger picture.

The Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program is the Australian livestock industry’s on-farm assurance program covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity. It provides evidence of livestock history and on-farm practices when transferring livestock through the value chain.

Administration of the LPA Program transferred from AUS-MEAT to the Integrity Systems Company on 5 April, 2017. The Integrity Systems Company, an MLA subsidiary, now administers the program on behalf of industry. AUS-MEAT will continue to conduct the LPA on-farm audits. As part of the Livestock Production Assurance program, an LPA National Vendor Declaration is required for all livestock movements, including property to property, through saleyards, direct to processors and to feedlots, and to the live export trade. The LPA NVD is the main document behind Australia’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe red meat to domestic and international markets. Thus if you are not a member of LPA, you can’t use an LPA NVD and you can’t sell stock.

Seven separate but complementary elements make up the LPA program;

  • Property risk assessments
  • Safe and responsible animal treatments
  • Stock foods, fodder crops, grain and pasture treatments
  • Preparation for dispatch of livestock
  • Livestock transactions and movements
  • Biosecurity Animal Welfare

Biosecurity Animal Welfare are relatively new elements of the LPA program and are due to come into force on 1 October 2017. Other changes to LPA that are occurring at the same time include a new fee ($66 every 3 years), a requirement for regular online assessments, online learning tools and electronic NVDs.

From 1st October 2017, producers are required to develop a Farm Biosecurity Plan. There is no requirement for veterinary involvement, but vets are well placed to assist producers to produce high quality meaningful biosecurity plans.

To meet the requirements of LPA, as minimum each Property Identification Code (PIC) must have a formal, documented Farm Biosecurity Plan that addresses each of the following:

(a) Manage and record the introduction and movement of livestock in a way that minimises the risk of introducing and/or spreading infectious diseases;

(b) Where reasonable and practicable, control people, equipment and vehicles entering the property, thus minimising the potential for property contamination and, if possible, keep a record of such movements; and

(c) Prevent and control animal diseases on-farm by regularly monitoring and managing livestock.

There is a checklist of activities that can assist producers in meeting the biosecurity requirements of LPA:

  • PIC has a documented Farm Biosecurity Plan
  • All livestock movements onto the PIC have a known health status (e.g. Livestock Health Statement/Declaration or equivalent)
  • All introduced livestock are inspected for signs of ill health or disease on arrival at the property and kept in isolation for a period of time
  • Livestock are inspected regularly for ill health and disease and appropriate action undertaken where necessary
  • The risk of livestock straying onto or from the property is minimised
  • There are systems in place to notify a veterinary practitioner, or animal health officer, if unusual disease, illness or mortality is observed
  • Where reasonable and practical, the movement of people, vehicles and equipment entering the property are controlled and, where possible, movements recorded
  • Any other procedures or practices that contribute to minimising the risk or spread of disease

Another reason to have a biosecurity plan is for Johne’s Disease accreditation. Producers who wish to maintain a J-BAS score of 7 or 8 need to have a biosecurity plan overseen by a vet. For the most part, producers are likely to have already done this or already be aware of it. There are specific requirements for a J-BAS 7 or 8 biosecurity plan which are detailed on the animalhealthaustralia.com.au web site.

There is no need to have two plans! A single plan should be developed that covers all bases.

The Australian Cattle Veterinarians’ Biocheck® is a tool available through your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive farm biosecurity plan. When using this tool, it is the job of the vet and producer to discuss the major biosecurity risks, and to document how well they are controlled on a particular farm. It is not the job of the vet to audit the plan. Biosecurity practices will be audited as part of the LPA audit process.

Alternative biosecurity plan templates are available on the LPA, farmbiosecurity.com.au and animalhealthaustralia.com.au web sites.