Government biosecurity support welcome, but more action is needed to support growers

AUSVEG

A new $371 million biosecurity package will support the vital investment in the nation’s biosecurity sector, but industry representative body AUSVEG says that more action is needed from the Government to ensure the nation’s biosecurity sector is modern, effective and fit-for-purpose.

The biosecurity funding package will be allocated to increased investment for biosecurity-related services and activities in next week’s 2021-22 Federal Budget.

The package includes $84 million into frontline measures to better manage the risk of pests and diseases entering Australia; $80.9 million to build a modern, effective biosecurity system underpinned by the right technology, information systems and analytical capabilities; and $205.9 million to improve Australia’s ability to detect and manage threats offshore, while increasing capacity to respond to incursions.

AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside says that industry has been crying out for more ongoing support for the nation’s biosecurity system for years, with recent biosecurity incursions proof that biosecurity is too important to be left to chance and luck.

“As we have seen over the last 18 months, ensuring Australia has a strong and well-resourced biosecurity system is vital for Australia’s agriculture industry and important for the health and safety of every Australian,” said AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside.

“While the Government’s biosecurity funding package is welcome recognition of the ever-growing threat from foreign pests and diseases, AUSVEG is supportive on a longer-term, ongoing funding model that ensures the nation’s biosecurity system is well-resourced and effective.

“While we have natural advantages due to our geographical location, we cannot afford to be complacent. Recent biosecurity outbreaks in this country, including Fall armyworm and Serpentine leafminer, have shown the tremendous economic and emotional toll that incursions have on an industry and its members.”

“There remain serious and dangerous pathways for pests and diseases to enter the country through imported cut flowers and foliage from countries with unacceptably high levels of non-compliance that threatens Australia’s agriculture industry that need to be addressed by the Government to ensure that an acceptable level of protection is upheld.”

“Funding announcements like these will help plug some holes, but it will not stop the leak in our biosecurity system unless ongoing resources are dedicated to keeping our borders safe from harmful and dangerous pests and diseases.”

“The agriculture industry is working towards a target of $100 billion in value in 2030 and requires a robust and effective biosecurity system to protect crops and communities for harmful pests and diseases.”

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