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FMD/LSD impacts on the Australian red meat industry – your questions answered

Despite both Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) being detected in Indonesia recently, Australia still maintains its disease-free status. However, with the threat of these diseases on our doorstep, the red meat industry must remain vigilant and be on the lookout.

To help Australian producers understand FMD/LSD and their impacts – as well as what’s being done to prevent them from entering Australia – MLA has compiled some FAQs and related resources.

First of all, what is a) Foot and Mouth Disease, and b) Lumpy Skin Disease?

a) Foot and Mouth Disease: FMD is a highly contagious animal disease that affects all cloven-hoofed animals including cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, deer and pigs. Symptoms may include fever, drooling, reluctancy to move and blisters on the mouth, snout, tongue, lips or hooves. For more information, visit Animal Health Australia’s FMD page.

b) Lumpy Skin Disease: LSD is a contagious viral disease that affects cattle (both beef and dairy) and water buffalo. Symptoms may include discharge from the eyes and nose (usually observed first), decreased milk yield in lactating cattle, high fever, firm skin nodules 2–5cm in diameter, loss of body condition and death. For more information, visit Animal Health Australia’s LSD page.

How would an outbreak of these diseases in Australia affect our industry?

Foot and Mouth Disease: A 2013 ABARES report estimated an FMD outbreak would result in severe direct economic losses to the livestock and meat processing sector over a ten-year period. These losses ranged up to $52 billion over 10 years at a 7% discount rate.

An update to this estimate conducted in 2022 found the same large multi-state outbreak would now have a direct economic impact of around $80 billion (in 2020–21 dollars and with a 3% discount rate).

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2022: FMD consequences

Lumpy Skin Disease: If lumpy skin disease occurred in Australia, the objective would be to eradicate it as quickly as possible. This would involve humane destruction of infected animals, vaccination, the disinfection of infected properties and a vector control program. Australia’s Veterinary Emergency Plan (AUSVETPLAN) contains the nationally agreed approach for the response to an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Australia.

In the event of an outbreak of lumpy skin disease in Australia, the trade implications would be difficult to predict with certainty as such issues are highly situational and would vary across markets.
If commodities require certification that Australia is free from lumpy skin disease, those exports would be temporarily suspended while health certification requirements are renegotiated.

Source: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 2022: Lumpy Skin Disease

What is MLA doing to ensure Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) don't reach Australian shores?

MLA, in conjunction with the Australian Government, is working closely with the Indonesian Government and industry via a biosecurity support program to help control the spread of FMD and LSD in Indonesia. The program involves on-the-ground support from the Australian red meat industry to improve the Indonesian feedlot sector’s emergency response to these diseases. It will also enable longer term biosecurity capacity of the Indonesian feedlot sector to continue to operate with minimal disruption.

The Red Meat Advisory Council has also activated the red meat and livestock industry’s crisis management process. This led to the formation of a high-level cross-industry taskforce to ensure coordination and collaboration across all affected industry sectors. The taskforce meets weekly and comprises senior representatives from the Red Meat Advisory Council, the National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Dairy Farmers, and their respective industry service providers, including MLA. 

MLA plays a key supporting role to the taskforce by providing technical advice via subject matter experts across the following four committees:

  1. Overseas in-country support – to develop proposals for providing support to Indonesia and other neighbouring countries in their mitigation and management of FMD/LSD and to contribute to proposals for FMD/LSD support in overseas markets put forward by other parties.
  2. Trade and protocols – to undertake specific market risk analysis and market prioritisation and determine protocol and health certificate needs, both pre-emptive and reactive.
  3. Domestic containment strategy – to develop effective strategies to inform the containment and management of the spread of FMD/LSD should they arrive in Australia, complementing existing processes and plans, such as AUSVETPLAN, as well as other work being developed. This includes:
  • vector control
  • containment lines and zoning
  • quarantine
  • eradication and disposal
  • food safety
  • transport and movement
  • response capacity and capability.
  1. LSD diagnostic capability and vaccine development – to develop strategies for the development of diagnostic capability and vaccines to diagnose, prevent and manage the spread of LSD, should it arrive in Australia.
What can producers do on-farm to protect their business against a disease outbreak?

There are four key actions producers can take now to minimise the risk of FMD/LSD: