News and Views

Biosecurity boost to bear fruit for farmers

The Federal Government is ramping up its work to protect Australia from plant pests and create more export opportunities for Australia’s valuable horticultural industries by investing $2.2 million in three new plant biosecurity projects.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Member for Murray, Damian Drum, visited Shepparton to announce the projects, which include a trial of automated fruit fly traps, a strengthening of the fruit fly surveillance programme, and a grants program for work to prove areas are free of pests.

“Many of our trading partners require evidence of our strong biosecurity and freedom from pests and diseases to allow our produce into their country,” Federal Minister Joyce said.

“To boost exports to these countries, the Federal Government is providing funding to Plant Health Australia to support state governments and export industries to develop further evidence of pest free areas, to support new market access requests, and maintenance of existing markets.

“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.”

Member for Murray, Damian Drum, welcomed the funding announcement, which he says will have a positive impact on the fruit growing regions in his electorate.

“Shepparton is a major horticulture production region for pears, apples, and summerfruit including nectarines, plums, and apricots valued at approximately $500 million (ABS 2016), and many of these have strict are freedom certification requirements for export,” Mr Drum said.

“This work is helping to ensure we are aware of biosecurity risks as early as possible, to help identify and manage pests or diseases, along with supporting market access so our local producers can send their produce to overseas markets and get a higher return at the farm gate.”

Goulburn Valley fruit grower and packer, Mr Peter Thompson, gave his full support to the announcement.

“Market access is critical to key export destinations like Taiwan, China, and the United States. Pests limit our export markets. Working towards pest free zones will only enhance our export opportunities,” Mr Thompson said.

Federal Minister Joyce said the other grants would be directed towards the management of fruit fly, which is the world’s most damaging horticultural pest and a major threat to Australia’s $10.5 billion horticultural industries.

“We are funding a pilot of automated traps to help detect fruit flies early, which will also help prove areas are free from this pest and save growers, who currently monitor traps manually, valuable time and money,” Federal Minister Joyce said.

“We are also strengthening the National Exotic Fruit Fly Surveillance Program, which operates at many entry points into Australia to stop exotic species entering and becoming established.

“This represents a further investment in our biosecurity system which underpins agriculture’s significant contribution to our nation’s economy and safeguards us all from damaging pests and diseases.”

For more information on the Federal Government’s biosecurity work, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/australia.

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