The recent arrests of vegan activists in Melbourne, Milmerran and Yangan and the subsequent legislative changes highlight the need for farmers and landowners to implement biosecurity management plans on their properties to prevent a biosecurity event and a breach of the biosecurity obligations that exist across Australia.
The reforms to the Biosecurity Regulation 2016 (Qld) make it an offence to put on-farm biosecurity practices at risk by not complying with a biosecurity management plan of an area. People entering a farm must comply with the biosecurity management plan when they enter or leave the property and while they are on the property. Those failing to comply may be prosecuted, which may incur a maximum penalty of $2,611.
To ensure that the new laws are effective, livestock owners and farmers are encouraged to register as a biosecurity entity with Biosecurity Queensland, prepare and implement a biosecurity management plan and install signs at entry points to their property.
A biosecurity management plan should be readily available to visitors and easy to read and digest. In addition to this, landowners should confirm with visitors that they have read and understand the plan and their obligations under it, as well as the risks that are posed to a property by visitors.
Signs should be clearly displayed at access points to a property. The signs should advertise that a biosecurity management plan applies to the area and that it is an offence for a person entering or leaving the area to fail to comply with the management plan.
Significantly, without a biosecurity management plan, it may be more difficult to place responsibility on visitors to a farm who introduce a biosecurity risk. It may then be more difficult for a landowner to recover the losses incurred.
Managing and preventing biosecurity risks is a priority for Queensland and biosecurity management plans will be an invaluable resource to manage the threat of a biosecurity risk incurred by any entry to a property by another person.