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Big outbreaks, big losses for livestock producers

The cost of a FMD outbreak to Australia could be anywhere between $5 billion (if small and contained) to $50 billion (if it involves multiple states).

Early detection of a disease incursion helps limit the impact on livestock industries.

This 2013 ABARES research models the economic and social consequences of a Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak.

It estimated that a FMD outbreak involving multiple states would cost Australia $50 billion over 10 years. The economic losses for a small, contained outbreak were estimated to be about $5-6 billion (about one-tenth the cost of a multi-state event), assuming that export bans would be lifted more quickly.

Producers of FMD-susceptible livestock would bear the brunt of the revenue losses due to the restriction on imports and depression of domestic prices, with flow-on effects to other industries.

The social costs would also be significant, with uncertainty and social isolation affecting the well-being of individuals and households, and a cumulative effect on community activities, services and cohesion.

The Australian government and cattle industry are investing significantly in biosecurity surveillance to enable the early detection and response to a FMD incursion.