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Biosecurity, Health and Welfare

Maintaining Australia's enviable pest- and disease-free status is vital for our farming sector, both in terms of agricultural production and marketing - and is also of critical importance for the wider community and economy.

Biosecurity and quarantine

Policy Position

The NFF seeks a strong, robust and science based approach to biosecurity that protects Australia's agriculture from pests and diseases and underpins the competitiveness of Australian produce overseas.


Biosecurity boosts agricultural production and is a major asset in marketing Australian produce overseas because new export markets demand high-quality, safe food.

A robust, efficient and science-based quarantine and biosecurity regime is critical to maintaining Australia's favourable trade position by preventing pest and disease incursions.


Recent times have seen significant public debates around biosecurity and quarantine. The modernised Biosecurity Bill 2014 will come into effect in 2016, installing a new biosecurity framework. This framework includes a general biosecurity obligation, requiring farmers to take an active role in managing biosecurity risks under their control and to take a risk-based approach to ensure that pests and diseases do not spread.

Our Vision

To maintain Australia's reputation as a world leader in biosecurity, the NFF suggests the following measures:

- Improve stakeholder engagement with biosecurity through the establishment of a Biosecurity liaison officer from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

- Maintain policy and program capacity within the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, including biosecurity expertise.

- Implement the new Biosecurity Bill 2014 and associated regulations that will provide a strong and science based biosecurity regime.

More information
For more, view the NFF's recent submissions regarding biosecurity and quarantine.

Also available are the NFF media releases re recent biosecurity announcements: the October 2015 release on the Biosecurity Act 2015, May 2015 release on the Biosecurity Bill Passes Senate and our March 2015 release urging support for the Biosecurity Bill 2014.

Animal health and welfare

Policy Position

The NFF has zero tolerance for animal cruelty. To improve animal husbandry and to develop best practice for production animals, the government needs to work in partnership with industry.


Good animal welfare is consistent with good farming because high quality agricultural products require healthy animals and excellence in animal care. Farmers are strong advocates of good animal health and welfare outcomes.

Australia has strict state legislation governing animal production and welfare. These laws differ from state to state, making animal welfare complicated.

In general, animal cruelty is defined as direct acts of cruelty and as neglect of animals by a person responsible for the animal's wellbeing. Challenges in enforcing animal welfare are at present the monitoring of animal husbandry, the accreditation of quality assurance and the funding of independent auditing programs.

Current animal welfare codes neglect the practical realities of production, necessitating a coherent industry wide framework and strategy for production animal welfare issues.

Our Vision

To champion best practice in animal husbandry, the NFF would suggest the following measures:

- Establish an R&D project to provide a practical, cross sectoral framework for Australian animal producers to coherently respond to growing societal concern about animal welfare.

- Provide greater resources to animal welfare regulators to permit more effective surveillance and to support accredited quality assurance through independent auditing programs.

- Solidify Australia's international leading role in animal welfare by harmonising animal welfare standards and guidelines across all states and territories.

More information
For more, visit the Department of Agriculture's animal welfare page or the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy website.

Livestock exports

The Australian livestock export industry has undergone major changes over the last several years, as a result of the ABC Four Corners report into live exports in 2012, the Government suspension and the subsequent resumption of trade.

At the heart of these changes has been ensuring continuous improvements in animal welfare.

The suspension of the livestock export industry impacted on many families and communities in Northern Australia, and the livestock industry is committed to ensuring we continue to deliver increased improvements in animal welfare in line with regulatory requirements and social expectations.

As a result, the industry worked closely with governments and key stakeholders to develop a system that protects the welfare of exported livestock. This system, the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), is an approved and independently audited system that meets international animal welfare standards, safeguarding the welfare of exported Australian animals.

The industry strongly supports ESCAS through the development and extension of Standard Operating Procedures that align with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) animal welfare requirements. This support includes training, education and technical advice developed by industry and delivered by locally based animal welfare officers. The new system has required significant investment by both Australian and Indonesian industries and demonstrates the serious commitment of exporters and importers to getting the system right and ensuring the right welfare outcomes for Australian livestock.

More information
For more, visit the Department of Agriculture's Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System webpage.

Also available are the media releases re live export, including: the Jan 2016 Release re importance of an integrated cattle industry, the October 2014 Release re the Live Export Class Action.

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