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Recognition of need for action on biosecurity

The Australian vegetable industry has welcomed the findings from the Western Australian State Government-commissioned report into the State’s biosecurity capabilities, with industry body AUSVEG applauding the report’s recognition of the importance of increased investment into maintaining Australia’s world-leading biosecurity practices.

Western Australia Minister for Agriculture and Food Alannah MacTiernan commissioned the Biosecurity Council of Western Australia to assess the effectiveness of the then-WA Department of Agriculture and Food’s response to secure market access for produce following the discovery of tomato-potato psyllid (TPP) in February 2017.

The Council’s report identified a number of areas that need addressing to improve the Department’s ability to respond to biosecurity issues, including response structure, staffing, industry communications and handling national complexities when it comes to high risk pests and diseases.

“The Western Australian Government’s recognition that biosecurity is an area that needs improvement and investment is a good first step in addressing the growing risk of exotic pest introductions. This needs to be followed up with implementation of the report’s recommendations,” said AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside.

“The incursion of TPP in Western Australia has been devastating for growers in the State, with trade restrictions causing channels to market to be severely disrupted or cut off. This has in turn led to an oversupplied State domestic market and subsequent price crash of a wide range of fruits and vegetables.

“Keeping Australia’s agricultural produce free from pests and diseases is an ongoing job that is vital to protecting the future viability of our primary producers.

“This is not solely a Western Australian issue – each state and territory needs to assume an appropriate level of accountability and responsibility for their own biosecurity capabilities to ensure that the entire country is adequately resourced and prepared for any future biosecurity incursions that threaten the viability of Australia’s fresh food or the producers who tirelessly grow it.

“It is also critical that improvements are made to the ways in which state governments co-operate, to limit the negative impacts on growers and consumers.”

Minister MacTiernan has directed the WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to form an implementation working group to review the 11 recommendations from the report, with the group to report back to the Biosecurity Council within three months.

Source: AUSVEG

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