Farm animal veterinarians play an important role in managing animal health and welfare to support agribusinesses across Australia. On National Agriculture Day, we acknowledge this essential role that veterinarians undertake, whilst celebrating all those involved in the agricultural industry who raise the animals and grow the food and fibre, that we all depend on.
Australia is a major agricultural producer and exporter, and farmers care for 51% of our nation’s landmass. Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted on the agricultural industry in terms of exports and availability of farm labour, every day farmers are committed to producing the best quality food and fibre as they contend with fluctuations in agricultural product prices and inclement weather.
Veterinarians working in rural and regional areas work with primary producers to maintain the highest levels of food safety and food security for the Australian population. Their work is also critical to providing our overseas trading partners with a safe, high-quality disease-free product.
Veterinarians also play an important role in helping to prevent zoonotic diseases by keeping animals healthy and vaccinating them for diseases such as Hendra virus, brucellosis, avian influenza, anthrax and leptospirosis. Vets also often provide consultancy services to primary producers, to aid their on-farm productivity which can benefit business growth.
In terms of supporting the agricultural sector, there are career options for veterinarians working as farm animal or mixed-animal practitioners (a vet who works with both pets and livestock), along with roles working in biosecurity and public health such as in abattoirs or meat-processing facilities, and also veterinary roles in areas of Government and policy development. You can find more information on how to become a veterinarian here.
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) supports all veterinarians including farm animal vets, and advocates on many issues which affect both vets and the agricultural industry, such as calling for nationwide border permits for vets working in rural areas near to state and territory borders which may have been closed this year due to the pandemic.
Some other specific examples of how veterinarians help primary producers include through the WELFARECHECK program. As part of this initiative, cattle veterinarians guide farmers through the process of producing a farm animal welfare plan, which enables farmers to demonstrate that they have properly considered animal welfare risks for their individual farm and that this will be recognised as a higher standard of welfare management by processors, industry and the general public.
Cattle veterinarians also promote the PREgCHECK and BIOCHECK programs - both created by the Australian Veterinary Association. PREgCHECK is a nationally-recognised tail tagging system for the identification and certification of cattle pregnancy status. BIOCHECK is a technology where vets can assist farmers to develop a biosecurity plan to ensure that their farm has considered the major biosecurity risks and has appropriate risk management strategies in place.
So, this National Agriculture Day, we celebrate and thank all of those fantastic people, including veterinarians who work in the agricultural and related industries across Australia.