OJD exclusion areas
Ovine Johne’s Disease (OJD) is managed under a nationally agreed plan, which is revised every five years. The current management plan runs from 2007 to 2012. It is based largely on promotion of assurance based trading of restocker sheep, with information being provided via a Sheep Health Statement that must accompany each consignment of restocker sheep being offered for sale or agistment. This approach is supported by controlling OJD through vaccination and on-farm management practices.
In NSW OJD Exclusion Areas have also been established in districts that appear to have very low rates of infection, to assist producers to protect their flocks from the introduction of infection.
What is an OJD Exclusion Area?
An OJD Exclusion Area (EA) is an area of land, which may include part or all of a Livestock Health and Pest District, that is declared a Protected Area by the Minister for Primary Industries under the Stock Diseases Act 1923.
An Exclusion Area:
- relies on producers cooperating with each other to protect their area status for mutual benefit;
- is principally driven by extension advice that provides producers with the knowledge to manage risk of introduction of OJD;
- provides producers in the area with tools to minimise the risk of introduction and spread of OJD within their area;
- assists in preserving trade advantage;
- provides Authorities with ‘reserve’ regulatory powers to ensure that optimum management of OJD can occur within the area.
Exclusion Area Maps
The exclusion areas are labelled "OJD Exclusion Area" in the legend.
The exclusion areas are marked on the map "Prevalence Areas and ABC Area Points". They are labelled "Low Prevalence (Exclusion Area)" in the legend.
How does an OJD Exclusion Area operate?
An EA will only operate successfully if producers take collective ownership of managing their risks:
- firstly, by buying wisely;
- secondly, by acting responsibly when infection is detected or suspected.
The principal operational approach to be adopted in an EA is discussion and negotiation with producers. When infection is detected or suspected the LHPA will approach the producer concerned, identify the concern, how it has arisen, discuss avenues to resolve the issue and assist the producer to decide on the best action.
Regulations are a ‘last resort’ response where a producer continues to act in a manner that puts other producers at risk.
Authorities have an advisory role and can:
- advise producers on what to look for when buying or agisting sheep;
- work with local Stock and Station Agents and Saleyard Operators to promote this message;
- assist producers to develop Property Disease Management Programs.
What tools are available to manage OJD risk in the Exclusion Area?
A. National Sheep Health Statement
- Sheep Health Statements are mandatory throughout NSW when offering sheep, other than exempt sheep, for sale or agistment.
- The Assurance Base Credit (ABC) score on the Sheep Health Statement assists producers to assess OJD risk when they are buying or agisting sheep.
- The statements are used to inform the Livestock Health and Pest Authority of potentially risky movements into the district. All sheep with a ‘Nil’ or ‘Zero’ ABC score should be considered high risk.
- The provision of false information on the Sheep Health Statement is subject to penalty under the Stock Diseases Act 1923.
- See the National Sheep Health Statement
B. Notification of movement
- Producers who receive sheep from outside the EA must provide a copy of the National Sheep Health Statement to the Livestock Health and Pest Authority within 7 days after the movement.
- The National Sheep Health Statement allows the Authority to identify high risk sheep movements.
C. Response to a potentially high risk movement notification
- Risk assessment will be undertaken by government Animal Health staff.
- In some cases the assessment may include testing of at risk sheep.
- If the risk assessment indicates that introduced sheep are high risk for having OJD, further action such as monitoring (ongoing testing), strategic vaccination, and/or notification of neighbours may be recommended.
D. Management of flocks/ properties known or suspected of being infected
- Flocks/ properties that are known or suspected of being infected in EAs are required to implement a Property Disease Management Program (PDMP).
- The program may use a mix of testing, vaccination and other management strategies such as strategic destocking to contain and minimise the risk of further spread of any detected or suspected infection.
- The program will normally be developed through consultation between the producer, the local government veterinarian and, if appropriate, his/her private practitioner (preferably a SheepMAP approved vet).
- Authorities will work with producers to identify specific strategies which will assist the business to continue operation whilst mitigating the risk.
E. ‘Reserve’ powers and actions
Some regulatory powers are available under the Stock Diseases Act 1923 to back up the cooperative approach when necessary. The powers minimise the risk of disease spread from an individual who refuses to cooperate. Powers that are held in reserve are the power to:
- enter land;
- order that sheep are mustered;
- order sheep to be tested;
- order that sheep are vaccinated;
- order that sheep are detained; and
- quarantine land.
Properties that are known or are suspected to be infected:
- can be ordered to test;
- can be ordered to vaccinate;
- may be restricted from moving certain types of sheep to public places, e.g. only prime lambs or vaccinates;
- may be required to provide sheep movement information to allow tracing within the OJD Exclusion Area;
- can be publicly quarantined as a last resort if refusal to take action poses a high risk to other producers.
Neighbours of properties that are known or are suspected to be infected:
- may be contacted to assess the potential risk of spread;
- can be ordered to test where the risk of spread is assessed as high;
- can be ordered to participate in a ring vaccination program where the risk of spread is assessed as high.
F. Other tools available to protect the Exclusion Area
- Advice to prospective purchasers or agistees on recommended minimum ABC scores for restocker sheep. Note: There is no power to restrict movement of sheep into an EA.
- Promotion of strategic vaccination programs.
- Random audits to check on compliance with the regulatory components of an OJD EA.
- Voluntary agreements with Saleyard Operators and Stock and Station Agents to promote assurance based trading.
Can producers receive financial assistance?
Financial assistance may be provided to producers for OJD management activities such as testing, vaccination and strategic destocking. The level and criteria of this assistance will be determined on an Authority-by-Authority basis.
Assistance may not be provided in a situation where a producer has not adhered to the guidelines of the EA, for example, introducing sheep that are clearly high risk.
Where activities are to be supported by financial assistance the Authority will need to ensure that sufficient funds are raised to cover such activities. The funds may be raised by a special purpose rate on sheep producers with 50 or more sheep.
Authorities may elect to:
- collect a rate based on an estimate of activities that will require funding;
- pay for any costs out of Authority funds and then levy a special purpose rate to repay these funds.
What criteria must a district meet to establish an OJD Exclusion Area?
The primary criterion to be eligible for EA status is that the district must have an estimated prevalence of infection of less than 0.8%. This is less than 1 flock in 120 known or suspected to be infected.
Where the prevalence criterion is met, a potential EA must
- have no known clusters of infected flocks;
- have clearly defined geographic boundaries;
- have the support of local producers to meet the conditions and provide the funds for necessary management activities (this support must be demonstrated through a poll of eligible sheep producers);
- demonstrate that consultation has occurred with the wider industry;
- have a written operational plan; and
- provide evidence of adequate resources to implement the operational plan
If all these criteria are met, then the Minister will be advised and may proclaim the EA.
How long does an OJD Exclusion Area last for?
An OJD EA must be reviewed after 3 years by surveying local producers. If less than 50% of producers respond to the survey or less than 50% of those who respond support the continuation of the EA, a recommendation will be made to the Minister to revoke the EA.
Annual assessment of the OJD Exclusion Area
An annual report detailing the activities undertaken in the EA and effectiveness of the EA in meeting the objectives and targets of the operational plan during the calendar year must be submitted. A summary of this report must also be published and a copy provided to all local producers by 30 March of each year.
Continuation of EA status for a district will be reviewed if the report is not submitted or it indicates that the EA is not operating as intended.