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Policy Positions

Animal Welfare Policy for production livestock

 

Pregnancy testing cattle as a fee for service

Policy Position
Cattle Board has long advocated for an amendment to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 to exempt pregnancy testing as an act of veterinary science and enable professional non-veterinary pregnancy testing services to legally receive a fee for service in Queensland. Cattle Board supports the requirement for training to ensure any procedural or animal welfare risks are mitigated and competency is assured.

Cattle Board believes there is insufficient evidence to support claims vets will lose access to property if the legislation is amended. Further Cattle Board does not believe there is sufficient evidence to support maintaining the current legislation on animal welfare grounds. Cattle Board is confident that trained experienced non-vet are as competent as a vet at undertaking pregnancy testing. The unifying factor is the provision of training and progression of experience over time.

Issue
Queensland producers are at a competitive disadvantage to other states and territories that have an open market for pregnancy testing services. Queensland regulation is increasing costs and reducing margins for live exporters and breading operations reliant on pregnancy testing services. Regulation is also stifling innovation through restrictions on the practice of ultrasound technique. The proposed amendment aims to harmonise regulation across northern Australian for live export markets, enable professional standards for pregnancy testing and enable breading operations to increase productivity and profitability. 

Background
Members initiated the request for an amendment to the legislation during the live export boom 2014-15 as constrained access to vets was costing market access. In the current tight supply market, while live export demand has reduced the demand for productivity gains through herd management has increased opening another opportunity for pregnancy testing services

AgForce has secured bi-partisan support for an amendment to the legislation to enable lay pregnancy testers to receive a fee for service and practice their profession in Queensland. Minister Byrne initiated the drafting of a Regulatory Impact Statement for public consultation this is a significant step toward making the required change. AgForce will work the new Minister Hon. Mark Furner to ensure the process is continued.

To support the amendment to legislation Cattle Board is developing a transparent and comprehensive training and monitoring package for the training, accrediting and monitoring of commercial pregnancy testers with all key stakeholders, producers, feedlots, exporters and vets. Agforce is also developing a trace forward trace back data capture system to support traceability and accountability of pregnancy testers.

A national project is currently underway to identify the competency requirements for commercial pregnancy testers in Australia. AgForce is collaborating on this through Cattle Council of Australia to ensure any system developed in Queensland is harmonised with the national standard.

What the industry needs
Queensland northern properties are remote and travel costs required to bring the vet on property can be prohibitively high due to distance.  The industry needs increased access to professional standard of pregnancy testing services at affordable rates. Productivity gains from increased herd fertility management are well documented however many producers are not able to access services required.

Queensland Biosecurity Strategy 2018-2023

Policy Position
Cattle Board is supportive of the collaborative process undertaken by the Government in developing the Queensland Biosecurity Strategy: Our Next 5 Years. AgForce participated in the development of the strategy through the writing group along with Biosecurity Queensland, the Biosecurity Ministerial Advisory Council (BQMAC); CSIRO, Local Government Association Queensland LGAQ and Queensland Farmers Federation QFF. 

The strategy marks a substantial shift away from the one it replaces. It is built on the concept of co-ownership and AgForce participation in its development will enable improved policy setting through a shared vision for agricultural development. The strategy has six strategic themes: collaborative governance and leadership; every Queenslander plays their part; empowerment to act; bright ideas and better ways; valuing and building on our investment and better intelligence systems.

Issue
Queensland's biosecurity faces a rapidly increasing number and scope of challenges in the face of a wide array of global changes that themselves are increasing in intensity and complexity. To meet these challenges, the way Queensland approaches biosecurity needs to change. In particular it needs to shift to a position where biosecurity is owned by all Queenslanders and where the rapid evolution of technology is harnessed to support more effective delivery of biosecurity.  Constrained resources and growing costs mean Government and industry need to do things smarter, leverage skills, share information and resources and work towards shared goals.

Background
The draft strategy was finished in October 2016 and released for public consultation in mid 2017, currently in cabinet awaiting final sign of the strategy is due for release early 2018.  For the strategy to succeed and become part of the DNA of how Queenslanders seek to protect their communities, businesses and environment from exotic pests and diseases it needs to achieve community buy-in. The strategy cannot be static, rather is built on the concept of continuous learning. To ensure this, there needs to be a process of continuous monitoring and evaluation of the way the strategy is being implemented so that we can ensure that our learnings are being continuously integrated into the biosecurity system.  It is our understanding that the department has included a monitoring and evaluation program for the future work in developing action plans with the partnership. AgForce is a part of the oversight committee BQMAC and will continue to ensure industry needs are met.

What the industry needs
Increased investment in Queensland's biosecurity capability, skills and capacity both in government and industry are required to meet challenges of the system. The move to shared responsibility must deliver tangible benefits and not just a shift in costs from government to industry. The Biosecurity Act 2014 provides an opportunity for industry driven outcome focused regulatory reform. But to fully seize this opportunity industry requires support to understand how to identify and address risk to their business. If appropriately resourced the strategy provides a framework for shared governance and an opportunity to leverage industry and government resources to deliver improved biosecurity outcomes for Queensland.

Biosecurity fund

Policy Position
Cattle Board and the Sheep and Wool Board support ongoing investigation into the optimal funding model for biosecurity, disease weed and pest management in Queensland. The costs associated with managing on farm biosecurity are rising and it is clear the gap between the services government provides and the needs of industry is growing. On the one hand producers are being asked to take greater responsibility for managing endemic diseases and pests and on the other government is looking to reprioritise investment to highest need and best return on investment projects, including focusing on managing exotic disease threats, boarder protection, surveillance etc.

Issue
Queensland does not have a state level biosecurity fund in place to support livestock industries manage on farm issues. There is no mechanism to collectively fund or develop biosecurity programs which are important to industry. Biosecurity funds in other states provide a buffer between government and industry objectives and ensure services valued by industry are continued.

The Queensland cattle and sheep industries have numerous biosecurity threats which are on-going and likely to increase as trade and the movement of animals and pests/diseases continue to rise.  The cost of managing on fam endemic issues is rising and the value for government in providing assistance with managing them is declining. This will place continued pressure on the biosecurity system which is a complex industry-government partnership, to adapt. 

No matter how the biosecurity system improves there will always be a gap between what is funded and what needs to be funded because:

  • Specific biosecurity threats or services that are a priority for industry are not a priority for government.
  • There are many pests and diseases that could benefit from greater collective management but these are not universal across the state and they may be better managed in other ways
  • The existing system is resource constrained
  • Individuals may not be equipped with skills to address the issues on their own


To address this gap Cattle Board and the Sheep and Wool Board are proactively investigating options for a biosecurity fund that recognises areas where collective investment will benefit industry and existing biosecurity systems will not covered in the future.

Background
In July 2017 Agforce Queensland Farmers with support from the Queensland Government commissioned ACIL Allen to:

  • identify gaps in the provision of biosecurity services to the cattle and sheep industries in Queensland
  • the potential for a biosecurity fund (or similar) to address gaps identified.

The draft ACIL Allen report on biosecurity funding options has been received and is awaiting final approval by the working group.

The report finds that the Queensland cattle and sheep industry essentially have two choices:

  1. Work with the existing arrangements to further define and embed the principle of shared responsibility, or
  2. Proactively establish a new livestock biosecurity fund recognizing there are areas where collective investment will benefit industry and the existing biosecurity system will not cover in the future.

For such a fund to be effective it is crucial it is focused and structured to enhance and complement the existing biosecurity system rather than simply replace existing services or replicate similar funds. 

What the industry needs
Industry needs a flexible funding base to enable collective investment into biosecurity to manage threats, provide services and reduce costs of endemic disease management.

National Integrity Systems

Policy Position
Cattle Board supports and endorses national integrity systems that provide traceability (National Livestock Identification System NLIS), food safety standards (Livestock Production Assurance LPA), animal health (Cattle Health Declaration CHD) and animal welfare standards.

Queensland's traceability and quality assurance systems underpin the current and future domestic and international preferred supplier market access and allow producers to stand by what they sell.

Issue
MLA Integrity Systems Company face some significant challenges implementing digital processes across the supply chain, bolstering food safety through introduction of new LPA modules, providing DEXA feedback and incorporating mechanisms into the system that enable producers to better manage biosecurity threats. While industry is committed to continually improving the system there are many gaps in understanding of the processes and differences in opinion about the value of the system.

Integrity system are developed by industry for industry through established national processes. AgForce Cattle Board role is to:

  • Facilitate introduction of these systems into Queensland,
  • Contextualizing content to meet Queensland requirements,
  • Open two-way communication between producers, regulators and policy makers,
  • Ensure producers are central to all decisions that are made, are well informed about the costs and benefits of the change and can realise opportunities to reduce red tape.

Background
The introduction of new LPA modules and recommitment process has highlighted the change management process adopted was deficient. For example, industry demanded face to face interaction and leadership. AgForce led the development of a collaboration between, LBN, Elders, NRM groups and government to provide this service. Over a three-month period, more than 5,000 Queensland producers attended workshops facilitated by AgForce to gain an understanding about the new requirements for biosecurity and LPA recommitment.  
 
Nationally Cattle Board will continue to articulate producer's needs, argued for improved leadership and accountability, recommended funding be made available to inform producers of any changes and advocated for a more inclusive and tailored change management process in the future.

What the industry needs
Integrity systems that provide market access and improve profitability for producers. Clear and consistent compliance requirements. Streamlined data capture and transfer capabilities across the supply chain. Nationally consistent animal welfare standard. Increased adoption of integrity programs.


AgForce Cattle Limited - ACN 087 429 883
AgForce Cattle Limited is a company limited by guarantee. Our members are Queensland cattle producers.

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