A number of changes have been made to NSW Biosecurity Regulation 2017 which came into effect on Friday 13 December 2019.
These include strengthened regulations around feeding pigs and ruminants to better protect NSW from African swine fever and other emerging and ongoing animal disease threats.
The feeding of food scraps to pigs containing meat, blood, bone, offal or hide derived from a mammal (swill feeding) and vertebrate material to ruminants, is well recognised as a significant risk factor for the introduction of animal diseases to Australia. Land managers have a duty under the NSW Biosecurity Act (2015), to prevent, eliminate or minimise biosecurity risks such as these on their land.
To further minimise the risks of a disease outbreak in pigs and/or ruminants, mandatory measures outlined in the Biosecurity Regulation (2017) regarding stock feeding have been broadened. Restrictions on the feeding of pigs and ruminants now include not only stock food, but any material containing mammalian or vertebrate products respectively; noting that exemptions still apply in the Regulation to allow the feeding of commercially available feed made to Australian standards.
Land managers are to take reasonable steps to prevent pigs, both feral and domestic, and ruminants from eating meat products, noting the exemptions in place.
NSW DPI will work with farmers, industry and other agencies including Local Land Services, Local Government and the NSW EPA to manage the biosecurity risks associated with stock accessing prohibited material.
Current rules in place for stock feed for pigs and ruminants have been extended to include any material or substance that contains mammal and/or vertebrate product, respectively – i.e. any substance that an animal may ingest either purposefully as food or inadvertently.
Changes to the Regulation (clauses 36, 37 and 38 of the Regulation) will prohibit feeding or access by:
Land managers have a responsibility under the NSW Biosecurity Act (2015) to manage biosecurity risks on their land, including the access of ruminants and pigs to prohibited material. Swill feeding pigs (known as ‘prohibited pig feed’) and the feeding of vertebrate material (known as ‘restricted animal material’ or RAM) to ruminants are prohibited. The Regulation amendments clarify that any material containing mammalian product that is accessible to pigs is considered prohibited pig feed and that any material containing vertebrate product that is accessible to ruminants is considered RAM; noting that exemptions still apply in the Regulation. Land managers are not to feed or allow access by pigs or ruminants to prohibited material as far as is reasonably practicable.
Strengthened biosecurity regulations will better protect NSW against emerging and ongoing animal disease threats such as African swine fever (ASF).
Although there have been no reported cases of ASF in Australia, an outbreak of this deadly disease was reported in China in 2018. ASF has since continued its spread throughout South-East Asia, with cases most recently reported in Timor-Leste and Indonesia.
African swine fever is a viral disease of pigs. It does not affect people. It kills a high percentage of pigs with a mortality rate of 80-100% possible. There is no cure or vaccine to prevent African swine fever. This disease is spread easily from pig to pig, through pigs eating infected food products, and through transfer from farm workers, machinery, and soil from farm to farm. The disease does not affect humans.
The strengthened regulations will also provide greater protection from other significant animal disease threats such as foot-and-mouth disease and ‘mad cow disease’, some of which pose a potential risk to humans.
Mammalian product is any part of a mammal or anything produced by a mammal (noting exemptions in the Regulation). A mammal is a warm-blooded vertebrate animal that is distinguished by the possession of hair or fur, females that suckle their young, and (typically) the birth of live young (Oxford Dictionary).
Vertebrate product is any part of a vertebrate or anything produced by a vertebrate. Vertebrates are animals with a backbone including mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.
These products can be present in food waste, and in organic fertilisers and soil amendments.
Land managers have a biosecurity duty to minimise biosecurity impacts on their land, for example, the risk of a disease outbreak. This applies to livestock producers and farmers, any land manager who land-applies organic fertilisers or soil amendments (e.g. recovered waste materials like compost), as well as those who transport, stockpile, generate or supply waste and/or recovered waste materials, including landfill operators, composters and waste facilities. Producers of stock feeds also have a duty to minimise the biosecurity risk of their products.
As a land manager, you are required to ensure pigs - both feral and domestic - do not gain access to any product on your property which is derived from mammals and that ruminants do not access vertebrate material, except as otherwise exempted in the Biosecurity Regulation and as far as is reasonably practicable.
Following are some examples of reasonably practicable steps that land managers could choose to take to prevent pigs and ruminants accessing mammalian and vertebrate products.
Continue to manage risks from feral pigs accessing waste material for example
Ensure processing requirements specified in the relevant NSW EPA resource recovery orders are met, for example time/temperature and turning requirements for pasteurising compost.
Restrict access by feral pigs during all stages of treatment including transport, processing and stockpiling. This can be achieved in a number of ways including:
Ensure any product purchased is from a reputable source.
Comply with application rates prescribed in the relevant EPA resource recovery exemptions.
Before ruminants graze a treated paddock, ensure there is no visible treatment material (ie organic fertiliser or soil amendment). The time this takes from application will vary depending on rate of pasture growth and rainfall/irrigation.
Dispose of kitchen scraps responsibly; do not allow access to on-farm tips or compost piles to pigs or ruminants.
The changes made to the animal food section of the Biosecurity Regulation will not directly impact you.
Labelling requirements for stock food still apply for restricted animal material.
For all land managers and stock feed producers, it is best practice to maintain accurate records to allow traceability of material sold from or received onto your land; record keeping is good practice in demonstrating you are fulfilling your biosecurity duty.
For farmers sourcing organic fertiliser or soil amendments, this could mean keeping a record of the date of supply, the supplier, the product purchased, the date of application and treatment location. Composters and waste facilities could keep a record of receivals, delivery dates and addresses, and batch processing details. For renderers and stock food manufacturers, maintaining records that allows rapid tracking of products in the case of an animal disease outbreak, is a key step in managing biosecurity risks.
Developing and implementing a biosecurity plan demonstrates you are actively managing biosecurity risks on your property/in your business.
Commercially available feed products that have been treated to relevant Australian standards, can still be fed to pigs.
Further information and summary of the key amendments.
Enquiries regarding the regulation changes – please phone the NSW DPI Biosecurity helpline on 1800 680 244.