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Research and equine influenza priority issues for agriculture ministers.

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The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry


Research and equine influenza priority issues for agriculture ministers

7 November 2008 DAFF08/151B

Australia’s state and federal agriculture ministers yesterday agreed to establish an expert review panel to look at how to manage the risks of any potential future equine influenza outbreak.

Ministers met in Adelaide for the Primary Industries Ministerial Council and discussed a wide range of issues, including the on-going threat of equine influenza.

The independent expert panel will canvass potential strategies for dealing with any future disease outbreak.

The decision follows a national summit of horse industry representatives in Sydney on 25 September.

The expert panel is expected to begin work shortly and report to the next Primary Industries Ministerial Council in April 2009.

Ministers also agreed to strengthen Australia’s national research and development capacity in primary industries to reduce duplication, better target resources and boost productivity and sustainability.

Ministers endorsed, in-principle, the proposed national primary industries research, development and extension framework which was developed by peak industry groups, rural research and development groups and government agencies.

Meat labelling was also high on the agenda, following the recent Parliamentary inquiry into allegations that in some instances sheep meat was being labelled and sold as lamb.

The ministers discussed the potential for consistent, national standards for the labelling of meat in Australian abattoirs and meat processing companies.

They will consider a report on how these national standards could work at the next Ministerial Council.

Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said today’s meeting continued the cooperative national approach to dealing with key challenges facing the agriculture sector.

“I welcome today’s productive discussions and the continued support of state and territory governments as we work together to support the agriculture sector in the face of global uncertainty,” Mr Burke said.

“We all want to secure a vibrant farming sector which helps to feed the world in the face of a global food shortage and is as resilient as possible throughout the global financial crisis.”