Australia and New Zealand have formally agreed to work together to prepare for an incursion of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in either country.
The Australian Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and New Zealand Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy say that while an incursion is “unlikely”, the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both countries will improve the capacity for both to respond quickly and effectively should the need arise.
Last year, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) reported that an FMD incursion would cost Australia more than $50 billion over a decade.
The agreement signed by Australia and New Zealand formalises plans for the two countries to work together to prevent outbreaks of not only FMD, but other exotic animal diseases.
“We will work together in fields such as sharing intelligence on risk, collaborating on training opportunities, sharing scarce skills in the event of an outbreak and influencing international policy in the area of disease management,” Mr Guy said.
“New Zealand has now joined the well established Australian FMD training programme in Nepal, which has engaged the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization to provide veterinarians and key livestock industry representatives the opportunity to see FMD in the field.”
The agreement will also allow for the rapid deployment of international veterinary specialists in the event of an outbreak.
“Australia and New Zealand have a long history of co-operation in areas of mutual interest, and preparedness for a significant animal disease outbreak is certainly a worthy area to partner in,” Mr Joyce said.