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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2012
46 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2012 Better seasons, demand for breeding stock, good lamb and wool prices have combined to see a healthy rise in the numbers of the sheep across the Victoria In last year's VFF annual report to Sheepmeat Council the VFF commented that we were hopeful the positive market situation being experienced by sheep producers would bolster confidence and encourage them to stick with sheep. It's great to report that this has actually happened, with both the Victorian and National sheep flocks growing in the past 12 months. The combination of better seasons, demand for breeding stock, and good lamb and wool prices have all contributed to this current positive trend which we hope to see continue in the coming years. That said there are still plenty of challenges for the VFF. Increasingly we are seeing animal welfare being one of the biggest issues for our members, both overseas and domestically. We continue to see the live export trade attacked, and in the past twelve months we have seen both abattoirs and saleyards targeted by animal rights activists. This demonstrates how vulnerable we are as an industry in relation to poor management of animal welfare and also that animal welfare is the business of everybody involved in the sheep industries. The lamb industry is worth around 1 billion dollars to Victoria annually so the VFF Livestock group sees it as a priority to support and promote the industry. The following policy areas are just some of the VFF's focus in 2012. Biosecurity Preparedness Perhaps the biggest threat to our industry is an exotic disease outbreak. In the coming 12 months the VFF will continue to work with Victorian DPI to ensure that at a state level we are well prepared for an animal disease outbreak. Standards and Guidelines In addition to participating in in the development of the Industry Standards and Guidelines through our peak industry councils, VFF Livestock has also recently supported the development of the Victorian Saleyards Standards and Guidelines to ensure that the saleyard sector has appropriate guidelines to work towards. This will continue through 2012. Wild Dogs Following lobbying from the VFF the Victorian state government has; Progressed its commitment to introduce • aerial baiting of wild dogs as an important tool to significantly decrease wild dog numbers. Combined the two wild dog advisory • committees into one state-wide committee. This has changed the way government interacts with producers regarding the control of wild dogs, leading to much clearer, and to date, more successful communication. While aerial baiting has not yet occurred, the VFF will maintain pressure to have this implemented. This will compliment other wild dog control work currently underway including ground baiting, trapping and fencing. on Farm Sheep Health and Biosecurity Sheep health issues such as lice, foot rot and OJD, continue to have a significant effect on on-farm profitability. Last year the VFF Livestock Group secured funding to run a project focusing on endemic diseases and general biosecurity at a farm level, targeting the animal health issues that impact on farm profitability. To date we have run a number of workshops and developed online resources looking at a range of issues including OJD, safe vaccination, lice, footrot, and are developing a series of online resources for livestock producers. Livestock Theft After achieving government commitment to improved resourcing in the area of livestock theft, the VFF has been working with the Victorian Police department to develop the "Livestock & Farm Crime Specialist Group". The VFF has taken part in a number of meetings to progress this and ensure that it has a focus on delivering better police resourcing to rural based crime. This will be achieved through improving the skills of officers to make them better equipped to deal with rural issues, and develop better relationships with the farming sector. The VFF Livestock will continue to be involved in the further development of the Livestock & Farm Crime Specialist Group, and particularly the roll out of the Agricultural Liaison Officers who will be tasked with better servicing the farming sector. ian Feldtmann PRESIDENT VFF LIVESTOCK Victorian Farmers’ Federation