Citrus Australia seeks greater focus on plant biosecurity
14 May 2021
Citrus Australia welcomes the Federal Government’s additional investment in our national biosecurity and will seek an opportunity for additional dialogue on enhancing plant biosecurity.
The Government announced $400m of funding to enhance biosecurity over a 4-year period in the Federal budget. Citrus exports alone are worth $500m to the national economy annually, and a pest incursion has the ability to stop this overnight.
Citrus Australia CEO Nathan Hancock said a collaborative effort between government and industry is integral to effective biosecurity.
“This joint effort has seen the eradication of citrus canker in Australia this year, due to the dedication of state government departments and industry.
“We welcome further discussion on where investment is needed to protect and grow both citrus and the wider horticulture industry, which benefit regional and rural communities, and boosts the national economy,” Nathan Hancock said.
“Agriculture Minister David Littleproud spoke this week about boosting protection against African Swine Fever and Foot and Mouth Disease, which are devastating to the livestock industry.
“We welcome the chance to discuss provision for similar preventative measures against potentially devastating pests and diseases including huanglongbing and the Asian Citrus Psyllid, which have decimated the citrus industry in the USA and Asia, and are on the nation’s doorstep.
Prevention is critical to the Australian citrus industry, which has a farmgate value of $900m. The government will invest $84m over four years in frontline measures, including detector dogs and enhanced screening technology, and diagnostic capabilities.
It will also invest $205.9 million over 4 years to improve the nation’s ability to detect and manage threats offshore.
Although the recent biosecurity funding announcement has been allocated over four years, Mr Hancock said further funding will need to be allocated every year to meet the increased amount of passenger travel and international packages and freight.
“There is constant pressure on the system, which means open dialogue between government and all plant industries is crucial to ensure we are prepared.
“The plant industry has arguably more threats than the animal industry and our current resources are stretched to meet this.
“Citrus Australia places a heavy emphasis on biosecurity but the entire horticulture industry needs to be supported. We are only as strong as the weakest link.
“We therefore welcome additional dialogue with Minister Littleproud on how to maximise the recent funding boost, and target other priorities to ensure the wider horticulture industry can continue to prosper.”
For further information, contact Stephen Cooke, Industry Engagement Manager, Citrus Australia, on 0427 124 437 or firstname.lastname@example.org