Thumbs down to OJD rally

BATHURST sheep producers are set to turn their backs on a protest against Ovine Johne’s Disease policy due to be held in Forbes tomorrow., Bathurst Merino Association president Colin Ferguson said last week it was a shame sheep and wool producers in revolt further out west over Ovine Johne’s Disease zoning did not see the light years ago and push strongly for reform then., Mr Ferguson said large numbers of producers in the newly created NSW OJD Management Area are unlikely to become involved with Forbes and Eastern Riverina OJD Action Groups in the rally., “We’ve been there and done that,” Mr Ferguson said of the farmers in the newly constituted Management Area that takes in the Central Tablelands (Bathurst), Goulburn, Braidwood and Yass Rural Lands Protection Board areas., “If we go to Forbes it will only be to sticky beak,” Mr Ferguson said. , “I had something to say when the Management Area was announced., “I said then that the arguing should be over for us and that commonsense has prevailed.”, Mr Ferguson agreed with former BMA president John Seaman, of Perthville, who said he would only be interested in “a sticky beak” at the Forbes rally., Both Mr Seaman and Mr Ferguson spoke as one saying “Forbes and Eastern Riverina farmers would have been mighty handy to us when we were isolated by OJD”., Mr Ferguson believed prolonged drought and OJD zoning implemented in NSW from October 1, 2002, was making people emotional, based on what he had heard and read about the rally planned for Forbes., The organiser of the rally Peter Reilly had come out saying his action group dismisses the NSW Farmers’ Association as irrelevant., Mr Reilly had also said the frustration of dealing with OJD policy and drought will see civil disobedience by producers., Mr Ferguson said those statements raised the question of who would represent farmers if they dropped NSW Farmers’ and rejected the authority of NSW Agriculture and Rural Lands Protection Boards., The market discrimination that once drove Bathurst, Goulburn, Braidwood, Yass and Boorowa farmers to rally was suffered for 10 years by the farmers in the OJD Residual Zone who now form the Management Area, Mr Ferguson said., Mr Reilly has mailed 40,000 posters to farmers around NSW encouraging them to revolt over OJD at Forbes Midstate Saleyards from 11.30am tomorrow., One of the spokesmen for Eastern Riverina, Neville Bahr, said at least six busloads of protesters will be going to Forbes to support the call for deregulation of OJD in NSW, payment of compensation for producers with OJD and unlimited use of the vaccine Gudair., Mr Ferguson said he did not think the rally would change the mind of NSW Government which was locked into a National Ovine Johne’s Disease Control and Evaluation Program that included the zoning of NSW into Residual, Control and Protected Zones., “Thought has to be given as to what happens after the drought breaks,” Mr Ferguson said., “Sheep will go everywhere. It will be a tough time for authorities keeping track of sheep movements.”
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