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Sheepmeat Council : Sheepmeat 2013
36 SHEEPMEAT COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL MUSTER 2013 It’s fair to say that the issues we have been working on in Victoria this year are certainly not new, but as often the case seems to be, the context is continually moving. These issues that have been concerning farmers are currently heightened by the less than desirable seasonal conditions, market prices, continued (or increasing) levels of debt and what seems to be always increasing input costs. This is an ongoing challenge for us and our members and we are dedicated to our endeavour to fight for Victorian producers' rights and continue our communication with them in relation to state and national industry developments. Standards and Guidelines Considerable effort was made to engage Victorian producers in the consultation process for the draft animal welfare standards and guidelines for sheep and cattle, to ensure as many producers as possible were aware of the proposed regulation changes. To do this, we held meetings in key livestock production areas in the state, and in doing so were able to obtain feedback to aid in the development of submissions. Members, as well as the wider farming community were also targeted through member and industry newsletters, social media and media releases to ensure the views of Victorian producers were informed and heard on this issue. We are also involved in the development of the Victorian saleyards standards and guidelines which will be important for the move towards improving and maintaining animal welfare through all parts of the supply chain. National OJD Management Plan VFF Livestock Group led the campaign for Victorian producers to amend the proposed national management plan that was set to commence on 1 January 2013. During a series of meetings, it became clear that Victorian sheep producers had key areas of concern. These concerns related to trade entry requirements, and the negative impact they felt this would have on their businesses. VFF took a strong lead in this area in consideration of past stigma associated with the disease, and also our role as the sole Victorian voice on the OJD National Management Committee. We are pleased to see the national program now does not dictate trade requirements, and also includes a simple and user friendly Sheep Health Statement (SHS). Live Export We continue to support all national lobbying efforts for the continuation of live export given the important role this trade plays in the Victorian sheep industry. It has been heartening to see, and be involved in the much stronger nationally coordinated industry campaigns in relation to this area. Having said this, we are acutely aware that this is an issue we must continue to work on. Animal welfare is an issue that must remain front of mind, and is the responsibility of all producers and segments of industry alike. Livestock Theft Last year we were excited to announce the appointment of the Agricultural Liaison Officers (AGLOs) throughout the state. These officers have been trained to deal with livestock and farm crime to ensure they are better equipped to deal with rural issues and develop better relationships with the farming sector. The VFF Livestock Group continues to work alongside the Victoria Police 'Livestock and Farm Crime Specialist Group' with the mission of not just improving reporting, but also increasing conviction and prosecution rates in this area. Animal Health and Biosecurity The VFF Livestock Group remains proactive in providing Victorian sheepmeat, wool and beef producers with an animal health and biosecurity extension service, working with producers to combat endemic diseases affecting on-farm profitability. A number of workshops have addressed diseases such as ovine brucellosis, OJD, internal and external parasites, clostridial diseases, leptospirosis and theileriosis. Online resources developed for livestock producers continues to increase, with the latest fact sheets providing information on clostridial diseases, on-farm biosecurity, scabby mouth, pinkeye and worms. Scholarship Program VFF Livestock Group has further committed to encouraging young people to gain experience in a wide range of livestock businesses. We were excited to offer a young industry member a paid three month internship with the Northern Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO). We hope to extend the scholarship program to include sheep industry members in the near future. For further information www.vff.org.au Victorian Farmers Federation