Putting the squeeze on biosecurity risks

Citrus growers and viticulturists across the Mildura region will benefit from three biosecurity projects worth over $250,000 to protect the industry from plant pests and to open up export opportunities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, joined Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, in Mildura to announce the projects, which include work to strengthen biosecurity surveillance and create horticultural export opportunities.

“The Government is funding Plant Health Australia $88,000 to develop a National Citrus Biosecurity Surveillance Strategy, to enable governments and industry to coordinate pest surveillance and detection efforts,” Minister Joyce said.

“The Australian citrus industry is free from many significant pests that impact production and trade, maintaining this and ensuring earlier detection of incursions will help to limit their spread and minimise the costs of eradication.

“This strategy will also provide ongoing evidence to demonstrate area freedom from pests, to support new market access requests and the maintenance of existing markets, boosting exports.

“Many of our trading partners require evidence of our strong biosecurity and freedom from pests and diseases to allow our produce into their country.

“This work will give trading partners more evidence to be confident of claims of pest absence and area freedom. This makes things easier for exporters through minimising delays and allowing producers to get a better price for their quality produce overseas.

“The Government has funded Australian Vignerons $88,000 to develop a National Phylloxera Management Plan to provide consistency in how this pest is managed across the country.

“Through strict biosecurity management, large parts of New South Wales and Victoria—including Mildura—and Queensland remain free of this damaging pest and we want to keep it that way.

“The national arrangements under the plan will help protect Mildura growers by containing the pest to its current locations, with improved surveillance to help detect and quickly respond to any potential incursions.

“The Government has also funded Agriculture Victoria $75,000 to streamline contingency plans for exotic plant pests.”

The Member for Mallee, Andrew Broad, said strengthening plant biosecurity would deliver benefits across the Mildura region.

“The Mildura region is a significant player in the horticulture industry, responsible for 75 per cent of Australia’s table grapes, 98 per cent of Australia’s dried grapes, 20 per cent of Australia’s wine crush and 24 per cent of Australia’s citrus,” Mr Broad said.

“We are reliant on Australia’s strong plant biosecurity system, and this work to ensure early detection of pests or diseases, better management and evidence to support pest area freedom is hugely important.”