What Is Biosecurity & Why Does It Matter? 

| Written by Kim Lane

What is biosecurity? 

Biosecurity is an umbrella term, referring to measures and protocols to reduce the risk of infectious disease being introduced onto your property. Infectious diseases can be transmitted by people, animals, equipment and vehicles. It can affect a small area or decimate an entire industry by removing access to markets for the whole country. 

Like the global pandemic, a biosecurity incursion has the potential to affect all industries, not just livestock and horticulture. A biosecurity breach in Australia would also impact the tourism sector, leading to states refusing entry to people, animals and equipment that have been in contact with areas impacted by a biosecurity incursion.

Why is biosecurity important? 

A biosecurity incident affects all parts of the supply chain, particularly the end consumer.  The price of goods and services is likely to increase, with reduced supply not fulfilling existing demand.  Consumers are already seeing the effects of supply chain access issues due to COVID-19 and the added strain of a biosecurity incident will lead in further increases in price for consumer goods and delay in delivery.

Biosecurity measures should be taken seriously by all, particularly if you have animals or crops, even pets and gardens. It is important to understand your role, be prepared, educate yourself and your team on how you can contribute to a stronger biosecurity system and collaborate with your community. It is important that you also abide by your local Agriculture Department’s requirements for on-farm management and transport requirements of produce and livestock. Some simple measures that you can put into practice now to assist you to be biosecurity safe.

What steps can I make to prevent a biosecurity incident? 

Update your biosecurity plan 

  1. Find a biosecurity management plan template that suits your property. You should list all potential risks associated by the entry of vehicles and people. MLA On-Farm Biosecurity Plan Template
  2. Ensure that your plan is accessible to all on-property staff. This can be electronic and physically printed.  
  3. Include a map of your property in the management plan with all fences, tracks and where your animals come through on entry and exit. Contact your local Agriculture department for an accurate map if you do not have one already. 
  4. Produce a Property Check-In process for your visitors. This will help owners and managers identify potential biosecurity risks entering onto the property.  

Streamline your check-in process 

Biosecurity Signage 

Enquire with your local Agriculture department on appropriate biosecurity signage. Signage should be placed at the property access points with a contact phone number so visitors can contact you for entry.  

Footbaths 

An on-site footbath is essential to reduce the transmission of biosecurity hazards. To make the process as easy as possible for visitors, have a footbath set up in an area ready to go. If the decision is made to require strict access with on property boots only, ensure that there is a change point to store outside boots in a way to not contaminate property boots.  

Staff training 

Organise time on-farm to train your staff about biosecurity awareness. Key themes to discuss include how to identify diseases, pests, and weeds. A great site that has biosecurity training is Farm Biosecurity which has been developed by Plant Health Australia. Their training literature and videos are in English, Bislama, French, Khmer, Korean, Mandarin, Tetum, Tongan and Vietnamese.  

As biosecurity has the potential to affect your community and on a large scale, this is the time to speak with your neighbours and community to ensure that your biosecurity plans align with your region. Speak with your local Agriculture government representative and see if there are any meetings that you can attend locally or virtually.

Resources & more information:

Australian Government - Biosecurity

US Department of Agriculture - Animal Disease Information

Government of Canada - Biosecurity [English]

Government of Canada - Biosecurity [Canadian French]

UK Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs - Biosecurity

Back to blog