Livestock Disease Control Regulations 2017
The Livestock Disease Control Regulations (the 'Regulations') operate under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994 (the 'Act') to provide requirements to protect Victorian livestock from disease and to maintain and enhance domestic and international market access.
The legislation also aims to protect public health by preventing diseases that are transmissible to humans, to provide compensation for certain livestock losses, and to facilitate the operation of livestock traceability systems for the purposes of market access and disease and residue control.
The Regulations provide requirements, infringement offences and penalties relating to:
- the testing, notification, and prevention of livestock diseases
- the identification and movement of livestock
- the import of livestock, livestock products, fodder and fittings into Victoria
- the seizure and disposal of certain livestock, fodder, and fittings
- compensation claims.
The Regulations affect a variety of livestock industry stakeholders, including:
Primary producers – Primary producers (including hobby producers and people who own livestock as pets) breed and raise livestock such as bees, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, horses, alpacas, camels, and aquaculture.
Stock and station agents – Stock and station agents act as brokers for primary producers and sell livestock via private sales, from farm to farm, private auctions, directly to abattoirs, or through saleyards.
Saleyards – Primary producers and stock agents use saleyards to buy and sell livestock. Livestock can be sold based on weight or numbers.
Abattoirs/knackeries – Abattoirs and knackeries slaughter livestock and process animal carcasses into meat and meat-related products.
Operators of agricultural shows – Operators of agricultural shows work throughout the state at various times throughout the year.
Important changes to the new regulations effective 12 June 2019
In support of the Australian honey bee industry and to achieve national consistency, Agriculture Victoria undertook consultation in February and March 2019, regarding formally adopting the requirements of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the 'Code') into Victoria’s apiary legislation.
Feedback received from stakeholders indicated they broadly supported adopting the requirements of the Code.
The new Livestock Disease Control Regulations 2017 incorporating the Code came into effect on 12 June 2019. The new Regulations cover activities that all beekeepers should already be undertaking to minimise the impact of pests and diseases on their own hives and those of their fellow beekeepers.
The most significant changes proposed for all beekeepers are a requirement to:
- check hives for pests and diseases
- improve record keeping of biosecurity related actions and observations
- control pests and diseases, and managing weak hives
- protect hives from neglect or exposure.
Some of the new requirements apply to all beekeepers; others apply only to beekeepers with 50 or more hives because of the increased biosecurity risks that these beekeepers manage.
Commercial beekeepers with more than 50 hives also need to:
- demonstrate adequate knowledge to identify and manage bee pests and diseases
- undergo annual honey testing for American foulbrood disease
- provide a declaration that they operate and manage their bee hives in compliance with the Code.
There are consequences for failing to comply with all apiary legislation in Victoria which may include being issued with an infringement notice or court action for more serious or repeat offences.
It is your responsibility to familiarise yourself with the requirements that relate to you or seek assistance if you are not sure.
Where can I get a copy of the new Livestock Disease Control Regulations?
A copy of the Regulations can be downloaded from legislation.vic.gov.au.
At the site, click on Victorian Law Today to search for the Regulations.
What is the Code of Practice?
In 2015, the honey bee industry, including all of the state-based beekeeping associations worked in consultation with beekeepers and governments to develop the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code).
The Code was given a vote of support in each state and was nationally endorsed in July 2016.
The Code is a set of best practice biosecurity guidelines written by beekeepers for beekeepers with the aim of improving the standard of beekeeping across Australia.
Beekeepers following these basic biosecurity practices will help minimise the impact of pests and diseases in their own hives and those of other beekeepers.
Areas covered by the Code include:
- pest and disease inspections and management
- weak hive management
- American foulbrood testing
- training and record keeping.
How will Victoria adopting the Code into our legislation help the honey bee industry?
The Code was developed to ensure beekeepers have the awareness and knowledge to manage endemic bee pests and diseases like Chalkbrood and American foulbrood, which are causing significant economic and social harm to the bee industry.
It will also help beekeepers detect exotic ones like varroa mite early.
Following the best practice guidelines outlined in the Code will help to:
Increase the productivity of our honey bee industry by improving the general level of pest and disease control by beekeepers.
Assist beekeepers to recognise exotic pests and diseases of bees and prepare for an exotic or emerging disease response.
Ensure beekeepers conduct regular surveillance for the presence of notifiable exotic and endemic pests and diseases.
Assist in the management of significant endemic diseases of bees, particularly American foulbrood.
Adopting these changes to Victorian legislation will help to ensure the future viability and sustainability of our honey bee and pollination industries.