Australia’s National Action Plan for Terrestrial Agricultural Animal Health
Animalplan 2022 to 2027 (Animalplan) will be Australia’s first national action plan for terrestrial agricultural animal health. The plan consolidates themes from over 30 existing strategies, plans and frameworks and outlines priority animal health activities developed and agreed through stakeholder engagement with governments, industry organisations and animal health experts.
The plan supports the goal of the National Farmers’ Federation 2030 Roadmap – Australian Agriculture’s Plan for a $100 Billion Industry, to enhance the productivity and profitability of the agriculture industries and support market access and agricultural competitiveness.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) is in the final stages of endorsement for Animalplan.
Current and proposed Animalplan projects
These current and proposed projects are aligned with the 7 objectives of Animalplan 2022 to 2027.
- Carcass Disposal - Destroy and Let Lie: The establishment of this collaborative research project will build on previous research to examine if natural carcass decomposition processes effectively inactivate pathogens such as African swine fever (ASF), under Australian conditions. The findings will inform strategic decision-making within emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreaks affecting feral animals and have the potential to enable significant savings in carcass management time and costs associated with response activities. Project contact: Robyn.Grob@daf.qld.gov.au
- Feral pig modelling: Feral pig spatial modelling to better understand their distributions and ecology. This will increase understanding of the most cost-effective strategies for feral pig management. The data generated by this project will information strategic decision-making within biosecurity incident responses affecting feral and domestic pig populations. Project contact: Robyn.Grob@daf.qld.gov.au
- Virtual Reality to support Foot-and Mouth Disease (FMD) training (phase 2): Phase 2 of this project is now underway. For information about phase 1 of the project, please see Virtual reality to support FMD training. This page will be updated as phase 2 progresses.
Strategies to enhance animal disease surveillance:
- Southern Australia Biosecurity Network (SABSnet): The aim will be to investigate and develop strategies to improve animal disease surveillance in the more remote areas of southern Australia. The key focus is on enhancement of general surveillance, which contributes to early detection (and/or exclusion) of EADs.
Specifically, the project will include a stakeholder needs analysis focused on building capacity for timely animal disease investigations, particularly in those areas considered more remote or isolated from mainstream veterinary services. This will involve:
- talking to stakeholders (virtually and in person) from jurisdictions, private veterinarians and industry to assess their needs and identify gaps and/or impediments to the conduct of timely disease investigations,
- analysis and evaluation of potential methods to improve passive surveillance, particularly the capacity and capability of veterinarians to undertake significant animal disease investigations.
- Consultancy for development of point of care (POC) testing policy, strategy and operating guidelines for animal infectious disease: This 6-month DAFF-funded project will engage an independent consultant to support the development of a nationally consistent management approach towards the use of POC tests specific for notifiable and reportable diseases in terrestrial and aquatic animals in Australia. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laboratory capability and preparedness (general)
- National laboratory simulation exercise planning: The Subcommittee on Animal Health Laboratory Standards (SCAHLS), through leadership of the DAFF and an expert consultant, are in the process of finalising a business plan to guide the roadmap for a national laboratory-focused simulation exercise. This exercise will assist in the identification of opportunities for training and means by which the surge capacity of Australian animal health laboratory networks in response to major emergency animal disease (EAD) outbreaks can be improved. Project contact: email@example.com
- Sample Tracking and Reporting System (STARS) enhancement: This 3-year DAFF-funded project will redevelop the CSIRO-led STARS network to enhance the interoperability of laboratory-based biosecurity data management system at both national and jurisdictional levels. The expansion of software capability and improved performance will facilitate integration of a wider group of network users and improve Australia’s ability to coordinate disease testing and surveillance activities, including those for EAD outbreaks. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Building Northern Australia’s Biosecurity Sequencing facility and network (NABSeq): This is a strategic 3.5-year project funded by DAFF which aims to improve northern Australia’s genomic capability to identify and respond to future biosecurity challenges; and provide more effective biosecurity risk management through modernisation of disease detection resources and surveillance in the region. Project contact: email@example.com
- Australian Biosecurity Genomic Database for notifiable terrestrial animal viruses: This 3-year DAWE-funded project will develop a curated national genomic database of notifiable terrestrial animal disease viruses in Australia to facilitate a more robust and efficient application of high-throughput sequencing (HTS) for Australian biosecurity surveillance and disease detection.
Enhancing diagnostic capability for lumpy skin disease:
- Developing an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test for lumpy skin disease: This 2-year DAFF-funded project will develop and characterise an IHC test for the diagnosis and investigation of lumpy skin disease virus in tissues, intended to be accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Evaluating antibody-detecting immunoassays for lumpy skin disease: This 2-year DAFF-funded project will evaluate the suitability of 3 different antibody-detecting ELISAs for lumpy skin disease surveillance, and proof of freedom testing, in cattle and buffalo in Australia. The ELISAs will be made available for use by Australian laboratories via the Laboratories for Emergency Animal Disease Diagnosis and Response (LEADDR) network. Project contact: email@example.com
- Building nationally networked lumpy skin disease testing capacity in LEADDR: This 3-year DAFF-funded project will strengthen the lumpy skin disease diagnostic capability of the CSIRO Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP). It will also enable ACDP to harmonise both genomic (qPCR based) and serological (antibody-detection based) testing capability for lumpy skin disease in deployment to Australian laboratories via the LEADDR network. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Developing whole genome sequencing workflows for lumpy skin disease and African horse sickness: This 12-month DAFF-funded project will develop robust and quality-assured whole genome sequencing procedures to ensure rapid and deep characterisation of lumpy skin disease and African horse sickness viruses needed to mitigate the consequences of their outbreaks in Australia. Project contact: email@example.com
Enhancing diagnostic capability other diseases:
- Networked serological testing capability for African swine fever: This 1.5-year DAFF-funded project will establish a harmonised ELISA-based antibody-detection capability for African swine fever within the LEADDR network. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- MicroRNA biomarkers for improved detection of animal diseases in a Johne’s disease model: This 2-year DAFF-funded project will evaluate the use of host microRNA for detection of Johne’s disease in cattle and provide a proof of concept for the potential extension of this approach to other exotic and emergency animal diseases. Project contact: email@example.com
- Development and evaluation of a point of care (POC) test system for emergency animal disease diagnosis: This 2-year DAFF-funded project will develop a suite of tests on a portable, battery-operated multiplexing real-time PCR platform for the detection of selected emergency and endemic diseases of cattle and pigs. The system will be trialled under field conditions as a proof-of-concept for other livestock species and EADs. Project contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Project information pending.
- Refining the ability of livestock industries to mitigate antimicrobial resistance (AMR) risks on-farm with improved biosecurity: AMR is a One Health issue, which means it affects humans, animals and the environment. While there is a good understanding of AMR in humans and to a lesser degree in animals, there is little understanding of the movement of AMR through the environment from humans to animals or vice versa. This project will provide livestock producers in the chicken meat, eggs, pork, dairy and feedlot industries with a tool to assess the risk of AMR transmission into, out of, or within their enterprises. It will allow them to make informed changes to reduce the risk of spread of AMR and improve biosecurity. The project will also pilot tools developed to take samples from areas deemed to be an AMR transmission risk, and analyse them to establish whether AMR bacteria are present in those samples.
- Antimicrobial resistance survey in the pig industry: An AMR survey in the Australian pig industry is commencing and will provide data to compare to previous surveys for monitoring and benchmarking purposes. Project contact: email@example.com
- Project information pending.
- Australian Agriculture Sustainability Framework (AASF): The purpose of the AASF is to communicate the sustainability status and goals of the Australian agricultural sector to markets and to the community. It will provide the whole-of-Australian agriculture narrative about sustainability to assist in market access and it will provide a translation layer to assist supply chain companies, finance and investors to better understand and report on Australian agricultural sustainability.
- Project information pending.
Steering Committee meeting summaries
The Animalplan Steering Committee (SC) held its 3rd meeting via videoconference on 4 June 2021. The SC approved its business plan without further amendment.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) reported to the SC that it will be seeking endorsement of Animalplan from Animal Health Committee and the National Biosecurity Committee, to be followed by the Agricultural Senior Officials Committee and the Agriculture Ministers’ Forum. While those endorsements are in progress, graphic designers in DAWE will be working on a final version that will include images submitted by members of the SC.
The SC discussed their approach to the Animalplan’s 21 activities and noted the activities with potential links to new biosecurity-related projects in DAWE.
Members were allocated tasks to help determine how to progress development of projects for Animalplan activities. These tasks include further defining the details of the problems to be solved for each activity, as well as determining the scope of existing or planned work for each activity.
The SC noted that the Chair would be presenting an update on the progress of Animalplan on behalf of the committee at the Australian Biosecurity Symposium at the Gold Coast on 26-28 October 2021.
The Animalplan steering committee held its 4th meeting via videoconference on 22 July 2021.
The steering committee noted that the Animalplan document is being considered by Animal Health Committee (AHC). The next step will be submission to the National Biosecurity Committee. The development of an accessible version and design version is in progress.
The steering committee noted that the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is developing the program of work for the additional biosecurity funding it will be receiving from government. The work covers development of new tests, new technologies, strengthening data collection and sharing systems for surveillance work, intelligence gathering, and strengthening preparedness and response to incursions within Australia and with our neighbours.
The steering committee worked through the next steps to be taken to progress 10 of the Animalplan activities. The Chair is planning to speak about Animalplan at Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum when it meets in September 2021.
The Animalplan steering committee (SC) held its 5th meeting via videoconference on 14 October 2021. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional custodians of the land and paid her respects to the elders past, present and emerging.
The Chair gave an overview of progress made by industry and government on identifying and setting priorities for Animalplan activities. The committee agreed it is important that Animalplan activities have a national focus.
The Chair reported that her recent meetings with Animal Health Committee and with Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum had been very constructive.
Instead of going line by line through a prioritisation of activities in this meeting it was instead decided that the secretariat would continue to obtain information about each project for committee members.
The committee asked that the department determine what resources would be required to have project reporting templates done by the next SC meeting or to coincide with the launch of Animalplan.
The Chair thanked members who had commented on the Animalplan design draft and noted that those comments would be considered by the department’s design team in its future work on the design draft. Subject to endorsement from NBC, AGSOC and agriculture ministers, it is expected to be finalised by the end of the year.
The Chair reported that she had recently presented to the AHA Industry Forum and that her presentation about Animalplan had been sent by email to all committee members.
The committee noted that the position of Deputy Chair has now been filled.
The Animalplan steering committee (the committee) held its 6th meeting via videoconference on 3 December 2021. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional owners of the lands on which the meeting was being held, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending the meeting.
The secretariat presented approximately 10 completed project updates. The committee noted good progress with this work. In future, the committee will request project updates 2 to 3 weeks prior to each meeting. A flow diagram or similar is expected to be developed based on the committee’s draft processes and procedures document.
The committee’s preference is that future meeting summaries emphasise the proactive work of the committee, including actions and achievements. Consideration will be given to including links to other organisations’ websites, where possible.
The committee was advised of potentially relevant project proposals involving the wool industry. The committee discussed whether the scope of these could be broadened, so that they align more comprehensively with Animalplan. This may be possible if the projects are approached as pilots for further work with potential to attract further funding. The committee noted that while single-species projects are within the scope of Animalplan, options to broaden their scope should be the priority to align with Animalplan objectives.
The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) informed the committee that Agricultural Innovation Australia had recently advised of a potential connection between the organisation’s interests in innovation and the department’s work on biosecurity. This was noted.
The committee also noted that a number of initiatives are underway involving sustainability, including the National Farmers’ Federation’s Australian Agricultural Sustainability Framework, and growAG. These efforts were currently meeting the needs of the related Animalplan objective with the potential for future efforts to expand to further meet this priority.
The Chair reported that the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, had included a reference to Animalplan in his keynote address at the recent Australian Veterinary Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference. The Chair informed the committee that she has applied to speak at the 2nd National Biosecurity Symposium at the Gold Coast on 3-5 May 2022. The committee discussed the potential advantages of developing a communications strategy to engage with key stakeholders.
It is anticipated that some stakeholders who have strategic plans that connect and align with Animalplan will be invited to briefly present at future committee meetings.
The secretariat reported that the Animalplan document is expected to be endorsed in the coming days by the National Biosecurity Committee (NBC). It will go to Agriculture Senior Officials for consideration and endorsement in the New Year. Once Animalplan is endorsed, expanded promotions can commence, along with efforts to prioritise projects for investment.
The committee noted that reporting to NBC about progress of work would be an appropriate approach to reporting, and that this would need to be incorporated into the work plan.
The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions to Animalplan during the year.
The Animalplan steering committee (the committee) held its 7th meeting by videoconference on 25 February 2022. The Chair noted that the committee had been in operation for a year and recognised its achievements and acknowledged the secretariat’s work. Since the committee’s meeting in November 2021, the secretariat reported that it had been informed of Animalplan’s out-of-session endorsement by the National Biosecurity Committee. Out-of-session endorsement from the Agriculture Senior Officials’ Committee was sought in February 2022.
The Chair proposed that for the future, project ideas from state/territory governments be contributed through Animal Health Committee, and industry/other proposals come via the relevant peak industry organisation. The committee adopted the Chair’s proposal as a model for collecting new project ideas.
The committee noted the Chair had received submissions proposing priorities from Animal Health Committee and Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum Emergency Animal Diseases Working Group (IFEAWG). The committee also noted that at least 4 of the IFEADWG priorities align with AHC and Animalplan priorities. Animal Health Australia (AHA) agreed to convene a workshop of relevant stakeholders (late April/early May) to identify 2 or 3 clearly scoped project ideas, with identified project leads, timelines, funding sources and budgets.
The committee noted and discussed the written project updates circulated by the secretariat. Members appreciated the visibility of projects underway, and this was useful for informing discussions and recommendations. These projects will be made available on the Animalplan website.
The Chair updated the committee on the outcomes of recent meetings with representatives of Agricultural Innovation Australia, Veterinary Schools of Australia and New Zealand, AHA and the Animal Industries' Antimicrobial Stewardship R,D&E Strategy. These meeting increased respective understanding of each group’s roles and priorities.
The secretariat reported on the development of the National Biosecurity Strategy and the Chair’s meeting with the relevant Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment team developing the strategy. The strategy is expected to include an acknowledgment of Animalplan.
The Chair drew attention to the updated committee processes and procedures, and invited comments from members. The Chair then thanked committee members and the secretariat for their contributions, and closed the meeting.
The Animalplan Steering Committee (the Committee) held its 8th meeting by videoconference on 27 May 2022. The Chair welcomed participants and acknowledged the traditional owners of the lands on which the meeting was being held, and any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who may be attending the meeting.
The Secretariat reported (through the Chair) that the then Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (now Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) intends to discuss ministerial endorsement and implementation of Animalplan 2022–2027 with the incoming Commonwealth Government agriculture minister.
The Chair informed the Committee of 2 half-day workshops which were held on 23 May 2022 involving members of the Committee, Animal Health Committee (AHC), and Animal Health Australia’s Industry Forum, to progress project proposals to improve emergency animal disease (EAD) responses. Workshop 1 considered crisis management plans and Workshop 2 discussed enhanced decision making in EAD operations. The Chair reported that the workshops had been very constructive with 14 industry groups coming together. However, neither workshop reached a final plan for a project, and the Chair asked Committee members to reflect on the discussion and consider how the workshops can inform future deliberations. The Chair also reported that recent emergency animal disease events and risks resulted in a greater reliance on in-kind contributions, but this would not be sustainable. The Chair summarised the discussion by emphasising the high level of reliance on goodwill, the need for succession planning and for greater advocacy for Animalplan’s objectives in immediate circumstances and the longer term. The Deputy Chair observed that the aim should be to develop a strategy to overcome the immediate problems and that influencing decision makers at the political level will also be important.
The Chair reported a good response from key stakeholders to the requests for updates. The Committee reviewed the project updates and noted the instances where the Committee could provide advice or contribute in other ways. The Committee agreed that stakeholders should be able to contact the project leaders directly, via the Animalplan website and that the contact details of project leaders should be displayed against each project, where they have consented.
The Committee noted that the Animalplan website (www.awe.gov.au/agriculture-land/animal/health/animal-plan) had been updated and the number of page views had increased. After discussing other communication options, the Committee agreed that consideration should be given to a workshop or symposium later in 2022 to update the stakeholder group that contributed to the development of Animalplan.
The Chair thanked Committee members and the secretariat for their contributions and closed the meeting.