Tue, 27 Sep 2022

SYDNEY, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Australia's biggest cattle-producing state, Queensland, will recruit a squad of biosecurity officers to boost its frontline defences against outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), lumpy skin disease (LSD) and African swine fever (ASF).

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Monday that the 15 new staff were part of an array of initiatives worth more than 20 million Australian dollars (almost 14 million U.S. dollars) to deal with the new threats posed by the infectious livestock diseases which have taken hold in neighboring Indonesia.

"We are stepping up our programs to strengthen years of preparation and prevention measures designed to protect the state's cattle, sheep, goat and pork industries," Palaszczuk said.

"Getting these frontline officers strategically located throughout rural and regional Queensland is a top priority."

The suite of new measures to bolster biosecurity defences includes increased support for emergency animal disease preparedness teams and providing training support to the industry to ensure uptake of appropriate strategies.

Queensland minister for agricultural industry development and fisheries Mark Furner said that although the outbreaks in Indonesia were causing concern, industry groups were expressing confidence in the state's biosecurity measures.

"Queensland has been readying for the risk of foot-and-mouth disease outbreak for many years and our strong relationships with key industry stakeholders mean we are well prepared and able to respond as needed."

Furner said although Australia so far remained free of diseases such as FMD, LSD and ASF, there was no room for complacency.

"Recent detections are a timely reminder that Australia is susceptible to animal diseases through various pathways such as wind-borne insects, food contamination and travellers ignoring biosecurity requirements," he said.

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