US Avian Influenza Update

US Avian Influenza Update.

Key Points

The virus H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), commonly known as avian influenza or bird flu, has been detected in some dairy herds in the United States, in what is the first detection of the virus in cattle overseas.

H5 HPAI viruses are known to be present in wild birds in the US and we understand infection may have first been introduced to the affected herds through the wild bird population. While cases among humans in direct contact with animals infected with the virus is possible, the existing risk to the public in those countries experiencing an outbreak remains low as the currently circulating strains do not easily transmit between humans.

It is important to note H5 HPAI has never been detected in wild birds, poultry or livestock in Australia.

As Australia’s peak representative body for the grass-fed cattle industry, Cattle Australia is actively tracking this issue as it evolves and as more information from the US becomes available.

Current situation in the US

H5 HPAI viruses are known to be present in wild birds in the US. It is understood that infection may have been introduced to one or more affected herds from wild birds, however spread to new areas by movements of dairy cattle cannot be ruled out, and this is currently under active investigation by US authorities. Within affected herds, milking equipment or farm workers may be contributing to transmission.

According to information provided by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service cattle infected with HPAI show mild signs of illness, such as decreased milk production, reduced appetite, lethargy, fever and/or dehydration. Little to no mortality has been reported and Cattle Australia understands that infected animals are recovering.

The USDA is encouraging US producers and veterinarians to minimise dairy cattle movement and uphold good biosecurity. They are not anticipating the need to depopulate affected dairy herds. The USDA and the Food and Drug Administration is also reporting that there is currently no concern about the safety of milk supply.

As of 1 April 2024, The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a statement about a human case, where the presenting patient had been exposed to dairy cattle in Texas that were presumed infected with H5 HPAI. This person had mild symptoms, including conjunctivitis, and is recovering.

Background on H5 HPAI

Since first being detected in 1996, H5 HPAI viruses have spread to wild birds and poultry in all continents, except Australia. They can have significant animal health and welfare implications for poultry and wild birds, and some variants have caused sporadic infections in mammals.
A wide range of mammals across the world have been infected by HPAI, including marine mammals (e.g. seals and dolphins) and terrestrial mammals such as bears, pigs, goats, mink, cats and dogs. Typically, they become infected after exposure to infectious material from infected wild birds.

Implications for Australia

H5 HPAI viruses have never been detected in wild birds, poultry or livestock in Australia.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s assessment is that this finding of H5 HPAI in cattle in the US does not increase the risk for livestock in Australia.
However, should H5 HPAI be introduced into Australia via wild birds, it could have significant impacts on poultry production and wildlife.
For more information go to:
• Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Detections in Livestock | Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (
• Questions and Answers Regarding Milk Safety During Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) Outbreaks | FDA
• Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1) Virus Infection Reported in a Person in the U.S. | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

Media Enquiries

Hayley Kennedy
0488 021 154

Stacey Wordsworth
0438 394 371


Garry Edwards

Managing Director and CEO, Maureen Pastoral Company

Garry was born and raised on a commercial beef cattle property south of Gloucester in New South Wales. Garry has personal cattle production interests in this region today as well as his corporate role as the Managing Director and CEO of AAM, a business that has a significant focus in continuing to expand beyond our cattle production interests in Central West NSW, near Forbes and Bective Station near Tamworth, NSW.

Garry has over 25 years’ experience in large scale livestock production management within the Australian agribusiness sector. His experience spans across a vast array of areas of the agricultural supply chain and includes managing businesses involved in livestock breeding, growing and finishing, financing of agricultural projects, implementation of precision agriculture practices, investigation and implementation of sustainability and innovation initiatives and developing and operating integrated agricultural businesses.

In 2007, Garry founded the company that today is AAM, commencing the development, operation and management of a portfolio of agricultural assets valued at $887 million and he remains the major shareholder of AAM.

Garry has a unique skill set across multiple facets of the grass-fed cattle production supply chain, from production through to finishing, as well as a unique perspective of the challenges facing all grass-fed producers within Australia through his involvement in the modernisation and development of livestock marketing facilities throughout Victoria, NSW and Queensland.

George King

Managing Director, The Whitney Pastoral Co and Manager, "Coombing Park"
George is a seventh generation Australian farmer, currently managing his family property which they have held since 1880. George operates an Angus breeding and finishing operation joining 1,500 cows per year, with a low-cost model turning off steers at feeder weights and direct sales of females.

George has long been on a regenerative agriculture path as it was the only way he could see to renovate their property 25 years ago without employed equity or working capital, which at the time they didn’t have. He continues with this model as it provides outstanding cost containments, continued production and profitability.

George is married with four (4) children, Harry 24, Emma 22, Dave 15 and Tom 13. He also enjoys flying and has his pilot’s license.

George is also a Founding Director of The Wellness House and a Founding Director of ONFARM CO. He has a strong voluntary involvement with his community including as the NSW Rural Fire Services Senior Dept Capt. and Chairman of St Paul’s Carcoar.

Bryce Camm

Grazier, camm agricultual group

Bryce Camm hails from Dalby in Queensland’s Darling Downs region where he oversees his family’s company Camm Agricultural Group; an integrated beef and cropping enterprise with interests across Queensland.

Bryce has been CEO of the group for the past eight years. Prior to that he was the Manager of the group’s award winning Wonga Plains Feedlot for eight years where he oversaw the operation triple in size. Growing up on “Natal Downs” Station in north Queensland Bryce undertook a dual degree in Business Administration and Communications at Bond University and is a graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program as well as the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course.

Bryce is currently the Chairman of Beef Australia Ltd and the Immediate Past President of the Australian Lot Feeders Council, as well as a previous Director of the Red Meat Advisory Council. 

Elke Cleverdon

Owner and Director, Cleverdon Agriculture - Grass Fed Black Angus

Elke is an experienced non-executive director in the agribusiness and customer-owned banking sector with a passion for member-centric organisations. She brings a grower perspective coupled with her genuine drive to elevate the industry through innovation. She was selected to the National Farmers Federation ‘Diversity in Ag Leadership’ 2022, among 12 women nationally. 

Elke has a broad background in the agricultural industry as a producer and rural financial coach across regional NSW challenging business models & production systems for growers across a wide range of commodities. Elke is a joint owner & director of a broad acre family cattle farm at Harden NSW since 1993. Cleverdon Ag raises & trades black Angus cattle  

Elke brings a wealth of financial, risk management and governance experience. Her current non-executive director roles include Local Land Services (NSW), Murrumbidgee Health (NSW Health) and SWS Credit Union. Some of her many strengths is a strong focus on strategy, risk and a triple bottom line while chairing large scale audit & risk committees  

David Foote

Director - Tandarra Partners

Nominated by: Peter Hall, Troy Setter, Bryce Camm, David Hill, Adam Coffey 

For the past 45 years, David has held rural property management, executive and senior management positions across all mainland states in areas of; beef cattle & sheep breeding, growing and lot feeding, meat retailing, small seed growing, irrigated fodder, and the further processing and exporting of primary products such as meat, grain and fodder.

His export experiences which started in 1989 included a role with Stanbroke Pastoral Company to help develop Stanbroke’ s Live cattle export program. Additionally, David managed the integration of Bottle Tree feedlot grain feeding in the production system while developing and launching their now globally recognised Diamantina beef brand.

David has been in a leadership role at the Lee Family’s, Australian Country Choice group of Companies since 1999 and progressed in that time from General Manager Properties & Livestock to Group Managing Director until stepping back in December 2020 from a full time role to a strategic advisory and board role.

Headquartered in Brisbane and employing over 1,400 staff across 42 operations, Australian Country Choice (ACC) operates Australia’s largest vertically integrated beef supply chain; encompassing cattle breeding, cattle growing and feedlotting to supply its integrated food processing facility in Brisbane that incorporates beef slaughter, beef boning, value-adding and case ready beef packing.

ACC’s cattle property portfolio of around 4 million acres in Queensland & NSW encompasses operations from the Barkly Tableland, CQ coalfields, Carnarvon ranges, Augathella, Blackall, Roma, and Moonie districts of Queensland, with a carrying capacity of 300,000 head. of cattle to support the Company’s 3 feedlots.

Additionally, David represents Agricultural & Cattle industry interests in his role as; Non-Government member Australia­ Indonesia Red Meat & Cattle Partnership, member SmartSat CRC, member Cattle Australia -Policy Council, member Australian Meat Industry Council -China & Halal Trade Groups, Chair Workplace Health & Safety Queensland -Rural Industry Sector Standing Committee, Deputy Chair Laguna Bay Pastoral investment committee and Board Member lnventia Genetic Technologies (IGT). 

Away from work David has a small cattle property in the Mt Kilcoy (Qld) district running Charolais & Charbray breeders to the delight of his four grandchildren.

David wishes to continue into a second term to help build a strong and successful Cattle Australia to represent the interest of all cattle producers