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Corowa exercise tests disease preparedness

A national livestock standstill – Australia’s initial response to an emergency animal disease outbreak - is the kind of scenario that has the potential to keep Local Land Services biosecurity staff awake at night.

With billions of dollars at risk for our livestock industry, it is imperative that the spread of any such disease is contained quickly and efficiently.

How to halt stock movement at an individual saleyard was the focus of Exercise Fed Way, conducted in Corowa last week by Murray Local Land Services.

The exercise brought together biosecurity staff, council and saleyard representatives, livestock agents and transporters to formulate a response for the Corowa saleyards to a national livestock standstill.

The group, including NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, Sarah Britton, also discussed a functional response if the saleyards were declared an infected premises, including plans for destruction and disposal of sheep.

All attendees agreed that the exercise had been a valuable and clarifying one.

Organiser and District Veterinarian, Mark Corrigan, said the exercise was designed to test the response capability of all the people and agencies involved in the local livestock industry.

“There would be a lot of things to think about if an emergency animal disease were to occur, so it’s important that we have all the bases covered in a practice environment so that we’re prepared if the real thing happens,” he said.

Dr Corrigan has seen the terrible effects of a disease outbreak, having been a vet on the ground in the United Kingdom when the livestock industry was devastated by foot and mouth disease.

“That is definitely something we want to prevent here in Australia, because not only will it cost the industry an estimated $50 billion, there is also the animal welfare issues and the human cost as well,” he said.