The State Government will make it easier for South Australian farmers to purchase sheep from across the border in an effort to fast track rebuilding the state’s flock after drought.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the State Government wants to work with livestock farmers to grow the number of sheep as fast as possible once the drought breaks.
“The State Government has a vision to see more sheep and cattle being farmed in South Australia and the wealth that comes to regional communities from the beef, wool and sheep meat sectors,” said Minister Whetstone.
“Recent rains have been encouraging for some farming areas but there is still a long way to go before the livestock industry is out of drought. However, now is the time to plan for recovery.”
Minister Whetstone said the government would lift long-standing restrictions which restricted South Australian farmers buying sheep from Victoria and New South Wales and bringing them into the state.
“We will be tearing down the last Ovine Johne’s disease movement barrier, and from 1 July farmers will find it easier to source sheep from interstate to boost the size of their flocks,” said Minister Whetstone.
“The dry conditions experienced both here and in the Eastern states means there will be limited availability of sheep for restocking purposes once conditions improve, so now is the time for farmers to lay plans to boost the size of their flocks.
“Without this reform, our local sheep and wool industry would be at a significant disadvantage to Eastern states’ farmers who would be free to buy the cream of our flocks while South Australian farmers would have been shackled in trying to source from interstate.
“Removing interstate movement restrictions will allow harmonisation with the national OJD program and will make sheep trade between states easier.
“In 2018 the South Australian sheep industry changed to a voluntary program to allow producers to manage Ovine Johne’s disease in line with their individual business priorities.
“Even though these movement restrictions are being removed, it is particularly important producers continue to look for sheep that have been vaccinated against OJD, or vaccinate any stock they purchase.
“Good farm biosecurity should always play a central role in any purchasing decisions.”
Minister Whetstone said the change had been supported by Livestock SA and the South Australian Sheep Advisory Group.
Livestock SA President Joe Keynes said Livestock SA was pleased to see the stronger alignment in South Australia to the national management arrangements for the disease.
“We are aware that approved vaccinates and stock from areas with a low OJD risk prevalence will not only be in limited supply when seasonal conditions improve but will also increase in price,” said Mr Keynes.
“Freeing stock movements up will assist producers greatly as they start to recover from the recent dry conditions.
“As the National Sheep Health Declaration remains mandatory for all sheep movements into or within South Australia, producers will need to need to consider how to adapt their on-farm biosecurity and disease management strategies in line with these new arrangements.
“The One Biosecurity program, I believe, provides a valuable tool to assist producers with managing Johne’s disease into the future, so if you haven’t signed up to it already this could be the perfect opportunity to make it a part of your on-farm biosecurity set up.”