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Farmer-led Surveillance

Partnerships are essential for effective surveillance systems. All livestock value chain participants including producers, transporters, rural service suppliers, abattoirs, veterinarians and diagnosticians have a role to play in disease recognition, reporting and response.

The Farmer-led surveillance systems project will seek the participation of Australian producers in a pilot program demonstrating the value of farmer-led partnerships for improving livestock surveillance at the farm level, for endemic and emergency animal diseases.

The rural community plays a vital role in livestock surveillance and goat, pig, cattle and sheep producers across the country are invited to take part in this project.

Project update: October 2018

Data collection: The dairy cattle and pork industry surveys are still open so if you are a dairy or pork producer in Australia and would like to participate in the survey, please click on the links below. The sheep, beef and goat producer surveys are now closed and analysis is underway.

Pork producers

Dairy cattle producers

Typology preliminary findings: To date a total of 497,419 and 131 sheep, beef and goat producers respectively participated in the survey component of the study. Most sheep and beef producers participating in the study are from Victoria and New South Wales and have over 20 years of farming experience. Participating goat producers are mainly from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and the years of experience is very diverse, from less than 5 years to over 20 years of experience.

Pilot networks:

  • The sheep pilot group met on the 6th Since then, the group has been working hard on their action plan, including visiting the local abattoir and gathering information about how the National Significant Disease Investigation Program operates.
  • Following the beef pilot meeting on the 21st September, the group is working together to create a website that collates relevant existing information for ongoing reference and exploring the benefits and fit-for-purpose of different technologies (including one developed by CSIRO) to aid surveillance and enhance their productivity.
  • The dairy pilot met on Thursday 11th October and agreed to consider ways that education around FMD can be done better on farm and for local stock agents, as well as what actions might improve the National Livestock Identification Scheme.
  • The pork pilot group met on Wednesday 17th October in Hagley, Tasmania and we expect more information from them soon.
  • Goat stakeholders will meet to hear more information about a goat pilot group in December at Murray Bridge, SA.

Team training and presentations: The research team is taking every opportunity to talk about the project.

Some of the recent opportunities were:

  • FMD Ready Annual Stakeholder Workshop 2018 – A great day for reflecting on how far the 4 subprojects have progressed, and to collect more information about how the states, territories and industry groups are interacting with small holder livestock owners.
  • Department of Agriculture and Water Resources Chief Veterinary Officer’s Seminar, 26 September 2018.
  • Emergency Animal Disease Symposium at Australian Animal Health Laboratories, October 17-18th
  • Australian Veterinary Association – Pig Veterinarians conference, Adelaide 18th October 2018 – presenting about the project and information about pork producers we have gathered so far.

Some upcoming events are:

  • International Symposium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics in Thailand, November 2018 – one poster and one presentation have been accepted at this conference.

Sub-project two pilot information 

Project team:

Dr Yiheyis Taddele Maru
Subproject leader

AProf Marta Hernandez-Jover
Charles Sturt University
Veterinary Epidemiologist

Dr Jennifer Manyweathers
Charles Sturt University

Dr Rob Woodgate
Charles Sturt University

Dr Yiheyis Maru is a senior systems research scientist, who has worked for CSIRO since 2002. He is a veterinarian who led and organised surveillance and vaccination programs for Rinderpest, a disease of cattle which was eradicated from the world in 2011. Yiheyis has an interest in understanding social, economic and environmental factors for improving livelihoods of rural communities. He has done research on the importance of social networks on the resilience of pastoralists in central Australia, and on the role of social factors on the transmission of African swine fever in east Africa. He leads the subproject on improving surveillance through farmer-led partnership as part of this RnD4Profit project.

Dr Marta Hernandez-Jover is an Associate Professor in Veterinary Epidemiology and Public Health at the School of Animal and Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Wagga. Her main interests and current research focus on biosecurity risks and risk analysis methods applied to infectious animal diseases and public health. Marta graduated in 2000 from the Universitat Autonoma of Barcelona in Spain, where she also completed her PhD on livestock traceability in 2006. In 2006, Marta joined the University of Sydney as an Epidemiology research fellow working on traceability, biosecurity, disease surveillance and risk analysis. Marta started at the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at CSU in 2012, where she teaches epidemiology, public health and food safety to veterinary students. She has led and contributed to research on biosecurity and disease surveillance among livestock producers in Australia, investigating implementation of and drivers for engagement with biosecurity and animal health management practices. Currently she is the Leader of the Livestock Systems Research Pathway of the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and the Higher Degree by Research coordinator of the School of Animal and Veterinary Science. Since completing her PhD, Professor Hernandez-Jover has published over 45 research articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr Jennifer Manyweathers has worked extensively as a veterinarian in mixed practice in rural Austrlaia and has lectured at Tsukuba University in Japan in science communication. Her interests focus on communication around scientific uncertainty in emerging disease outbreaks and the role that social and cultural insight plays in risk analysis of emergency animal and zoonotic disease outbreaks.

She completed her PhD on risk communication by veterinarians and horse owners around Hendra virus. She designed a risk communication workshop to assist veterinarians and biosecurity researchers to understand the importance of social and cultural drivers in decisions made by animal owners and farmers around animal disease risks.

Jennifer works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Livestock Biosecurity and  Disease surveillance at the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and Charles Sturt University since April 2017. She is working on the application of Agricultural Innovation Systems as a framework to improve surveillance for emergance animal diseases by Australian livestock producers.

Dr Rob Woodgate is a veterinarian with more than 25 years of experience in livestock health and production research and extension around Australia.

Rob is currently an Associate Professor and Head of School in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, NSW. He teaches parasitology and general animal health to Veterinary Science, Animal Science, Equine Science and Veterinary Technology students. Rob is also involved in a variety of biosecurity and parasitology-related research projects and manages the parasitology section of CSU’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Rob is also a current member of the National Technical Committee for Australia’s Paraboss website.

Previously Rob has worked as a Senior Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia, a Research Veterinarian with Veterinary Health Research in Armidale, NSW and a Veterinarian with Sheep Management and Production Consultants in Kojonup, WA. Highlights include facilitating communication and practice change with a wide range of local, national and international producers and other agribusiness, national leadership of the WormBoss website from 2005 until 2010 and membership of Australia’s national Rapid Response Team for emergency animal diseases from 2007 until 2010.

Lynne Hayes
Dr Barton Loechel
Jennifer Kelly
Lynne graduated from the University of New South Wales with a BSc(Psych)Hons, later completing a Diploma in Education at the University of Sydney. She commenced working as a research assistant at the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Charles Sturt University in 2011, and has developed a keen interest in understanding the drivers behind the biosecurity practices of producers. She has found her qualifications and experience as a psychologist to be particularly valuable in terms of incorporating social science into the area of animal health and biosecurity research. Barton has a background in both agricultural science and rural sociology and seeks to apply understandings of social and institutional factors important for developing better solutions for rural and regional Australia. Barton undertakes social and institutional research for improved grower-led partnership approaches in both the plant and animal health domains. Recent projects include combating Queensland Fruit Fly in south-eastern Australia, pest and disease surveillance in the nursery production industry, and surveillance of emergency animal diseases. His prior research has investigated collaborative approaches to a range of issues important to rural Australia including climate change adaptation, regional planning and rural education. Jennifer is a Senior Innovation Broker with CSIRO Agriculture and Food in Australia. She works in the Catalysing Innovation and Impact team to design and experiment with different agriculture innovation processes, policies and practices for enhanced impact.  Her work focuses on brokering opportunities that explore how agri-food systems innovation research can be applied with partners in Australia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific and East Africa to progress strategies and practices that accelerate and scale the impact of agricultural research.  She is an accredited Partnership Broker and has held positions in Local Governments in Australia, United Nations Women in Timor Leste and the Australian Government collaborative partnership titled Food Systems Innovation.