Cattle Council of Australia has reacted to the Federal Governments ‘Stronger Regions, Stronger Australia’ program with a warning not to underestimate nor disregard the gravity of the rural veterinarian crisis.

Cattle Council President, Peter Milne, said that while the Government’s program was aimed at giving rural communities the tools they needed to improve their strength and cohesion it neglected to address the declining numbers of rural veterinarians.

“Vets are a vital thread in the social fabric of rural communities, providing essential services to the livestock industries. Yet this thread is becoming worn at the edges. Our livestock vets are an aging population and many are expecting to retire over the next 10 years. The problem is that few young vets are prepared to take their place and establish practices in rural Australia.

“The Government has provided Australia with barrier quarantine surveillance measures that are becoming the envy of the world. However we cannot become complacent and comfort ourselves in the belief that these measures are all we need to prevent or contain an outbreak of an exotic disease such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

“The livestock industry relies on its veterinary services as the second line of surveillance for exotic diseases. Allowing these services to deteriorate may well be to the peril of the Nation.

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“It is commendable for the Government to recognise that stronger regions make a stronger Australia. However let our politicians be warned, veterinary services are a vital component to the strength of regional Australia, and policies aiming at progressing the prosperity of rural Australia must address the veterinary decline as a priority.”