Australian vegetable growers have welcomed the government’s increased investment in the nation’s biosecurity sector announced in 2018’s Federal Budget, with industry representative body AUSVEG saying it is critical to ensuring Australia’s agricultural production systems are protected.
A total of $121.6 million was allocated to increased investment for biosecurity-related services and activities in the 2018-19 Federal Budget, including:
- $86.8 million funding over four years to:
- Develop national action plans for dealing with priority pests and diseases;
- Increase the Commonwealth’s response capacity following pest and disease incursions;
- Provide greater assurance and verification of biosecurity import conditions; and
- Trial innovative technologies to achieve efficiencies in the biosecurity clearance of freight and passengers.
- An additional $6.6 million in 2019-20 to invest in research and development, national coordination and key infrastructure to manage the impacts of established pest animals and weeds.
- An additional $14.8 million over five years from 2017-18 for the cost of biosecurity clearances to address estimated passenger growth at all international air and sea ports.
“This is welcome evidence that the government is recognising the ever-growing threat from foreign pests and diseases and the need for maintaining strong and safe borders,” said AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside.
“While we have natural advantages due to our geographical location, we cannot afford to be complacent. Recent biosecurity outbreaks in this country have shown the tremendous economic and emotional toll that an incursion can have on an industry and its members.
“Australia’s strict biosecurity program has a strong global reputation for safeguarding our agriculture industry and our primary producers, and it is critical that this program is well-resourced so it can operate at the highest standard.
“The funding announced in the Federal Budget will help ensure that our biosecurity program is better resourced, better coordinated and better equipped to monitor our borders, prepare for pest and disease incursions and effectively manage incursions should they occur on our shores.
“It is also worth noting that whilst the Federal Government is primarily responsible for border protection, state governments also must recognise the growing biosecurity risk to their agricultural industries. Ensuring outbreaks are dealt with swiftly by applying scientifically-based and properly resourced management plans requires that state governments also lift their investment in this area.
“AUSVEG will continue working with the all levels of government to ensure the protection of our nation’s borders and investigate how industry, government and primary producers can work together to uphold our strong reputation as a producer of clean, safe vegetables and other food products.”