Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Agri manager responsibilities and biosecurity


As the country commits to eradication of Mycoplasma bovis, Ravensdown agri managers have been taking precautions to prevent transfer of the disease.

Mycoplasma bovis has brought biosecurity to the forefront of the agricultural mind and mitigating the risk of spread is a responsibility that must be upheld by every part of the sector, says Regional Manager Mike Davey.

Ravensdown and other rural suppliers were approached early on when the disease emerged to see whether we could provide support, mostly in the form of boots on the ground. Six agri and technical managers were put forward to assist Asure Quality, particularly across Lower and Central South Island. They have been involved in an array of activities, from issuing notices to affected farms to aiding in the cull of cattle. As has always been the case with our staff, confidentiality remains paramount.

Ravensdown aims to prevent the possible transfer of all unwanted diseases, organisms or seeds in organic matter on Ravensdown vehicles, personnel or equipment from property to property and so there needs to be clear guidelines for our staff to follow.

Wherever we might have the ability to make an impact, we’ve thought about the process and how to mitigate further spread.

The first step is for agri managers to ask farmers if they have any special biosecurity requirements when making an appointment to visit the farm. Any specific requirements a farmer has will influence some of the agri managers’ actions from that point.

Our agri managers own requirements are to arrive at the property with a clean vehicle. It’s near impossible to keep a car spotless on country roads, but while gravel dust is fine there should be no farm mud, faecal material or vegetative matter on the vehicle. If it’s used on-farm then they follow the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) cleaning and disinfecting instructions.

Clothing and footwear must also be clean when they arrive on farm. Between properties, they clean and disinfect their footwear. After animal handling, agri managers will change clothing or wear clean overalls between farms.

To ensure agri managers can fulfil these requirements, each car is kitted out with a pump spray container, citric acid, hand sanitiser, a plastic bin for standing in and washing down boots, two pairs of gumboots, scrubbing brush, disposable gloves and a pair of overalls.

If a farm is under notice by MPI, the responsibility lies with the farmer to get the relevant permits for people, vehicles or equipment to come onto the property.

Washing down vehicles and kit does inherently slow down the day quite significantly, but the right thing to do is to get it right every time on every farm. Farmers are doing their bit to prevent the transfer of the disease, it’s only right that we demand the same caution to be taken ourselves.

If anyone is struggling, reach out to the Rural Support Trust for a confidential chat on 0800 787 254 or visit their website.