Southern Australia's livestock sector is on alert after recent reports of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Indonesia.
Reports of the disease in Indonesia first started circulating in May 2022, according to the Department of Agriculture, however the Indonesian Government has since confirmed 63 cases of foot and mouth in the tourist capital of Bali.
Horsham Livestock Exchange coordinator Paul Christopher said there were concerns from the region's farmers that end of school holiday tourists returning to the country might spread the disease to Australia.
"We are touted by the world as one of the best countries to buy clean and green - with no diseases. We have our markets on the back of that," he said.
"If we happen to get it here, straight away we would lose market share with our meat and our milk products.
"Then they would look at wool and all of the other things that go with it. It would have big consequences for Australia's livestock industry."
In response to the Bali outbreak, Mr Christopher talks were being held between the livestock exchange, Agriculture Victoria and Victoria Police's livestock crime division about a possible response to a Wimmera case.
"As far as the Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange and the department of ag and the local crime safety unit, we have gotten together and had a bit of a talk about what would happen if it did happen here and there was a stock stand still call. How we would inform people and what we need to do," he said.
"There are people who are doing things behind the scene if something happened. It is at the forefront, I promise you this isn't in the background."
We have people that want to go to Bali for a holiday, which is okay, but if it is brought to Horsham that would be catastrophic.
This comes as the federal government ramps up its biosecurity measures at major airports across the country.
Some of the new measures included biosecurity detector dogs at Darwin and Cairns airport, additional training for airport staff and a social media campaign focusing on biosecurity precautions.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt said Australia had also been storing a foot and mouth vaccine bank should the disease be detected in Australia.
The threat of foot and mouth disease to livestock markets rose to prominence when the disease established itself in the UK in 2001 - resulting in 8 billion pounds (about $19 billion AUD) in losses.
Mr Christopher said he has had firsthand experience of the disease in livestock after travelling to Nepal four years ago.
As part of a training tour with Wool Producers Mr Christopher travelled to the country, where the disease is endemic, and learned how to treat and mitigate a potential outbreak of the disease.
"They have come to the realisation that it is very hard for them to eradicate it there, because of the dollars it costs," he said.
Farmers have since taken foot and mouth prevention matters up with state and federal governments.
The Victorian Farmers Federation issued a statement asking travellers to exercise precaution if travelling or returning from Indonesia and called for an expanded Commonwealth biosecurity safety net.
Rupanyup farmer Ray Kingston joined many other farmers on social media to ask what actions the federal government would take to ensure the disease would not leak into the country.
Mr Kingston, who runs a mixed farming operation of sheep and cropping, with a small herd of cattle, said his concerns came from memories of how foot and mouth had devastated farms in the UK.
"Ten years ago I was at a conference and I saw a former MP and vet Bill Sykes speak about his time in the UK during a foot and mouth outbreak over there," he said.
I have never forgotten that speech, it was heartbreaking hearing him talk about walking into generational family farms and telling them their stock has to go. Piles of carcasses burning."
Through posting online, Mr Kingston hoped to spread awareness of the severity of the disease, both in the federal government and for the general public.
"People have really amped up with this conversation of the past couple of days," he said.
"To me, people sling off at social media and call it a cesspit, but this is a great example of the upside of your average farmer having a voice that can be quite loud.
"This is a great opportunity to use social media and Twitter in a really functional and grassroots way."
For people looking to travel overseas, especially in Indonesia, Mr Christopher said simple precautions could minimise the risk of spreading the disease.
"Definitely if people do travel, make sure their clothes are clean and they have a wash themselves before they get onto the plane," he said.
"Minimise the amount of animals you touch. You see pictures of people riding ox in rice paddies, that would be a big no no.
"We have people that want to go to Bali for a holiday, which is okay, but if it is brought to Horsham that would be catastrophic.
"We are talking billions of dollars in lost revenue if we do get it."
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