NSW Farmers is calling for $100 million to deliver a suite of measures to better address biosecurity risk and protect the profitability of our agricultural industries. Lifting awareness of the value of biosecurity, better connecting and resourcing first responders and manage key biosecurity risks to industry are the key priorities for this funding.
Enhancing Biosecurity Systems
NSW Farmers is seeking $50 million to enhance the state’s biosecurity systems to ensure our they remain world leading and to strengthen our reputation for delivering high quality, clean, green and safe food and fibre.
Agriculture depends on exports markets to absorb the bulk of production, and to underpin prices and returns to farmers. Effective biosecurity systems guarantee our farmers’ products access to export markets; currently these systems are under pressure as the market demands higher assurances. There is a need to modernise the state’s biosecurity systems so that importing country requirements can be satisfied, ensuring local producers’ access to these vital export markets.
The investment would deliver modern and world-class traceability systems, increase surveillance and monitoring programs that proactively detect biosecurity threats, provide evidence of disease freedom, and also enhance data collection, analysis and accessibility.
Resourcing first responders
NSW Farmers is calling for the Local Land Service (LLS) and the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to be given a further $20 million to more effectively detect and respond to an outbreak of an exotic animal or plant disease or pest in New South Wales. The establishment of a ‘biosecurity flying squad’ is proposed, which can be deployed to assist DPI staff and other first responders in the swift management of a disease or pest following detection.
With one fifth of our agricultural produce being exported, dealing quickly with a biosecurity incursion is essential to its swift eradication and to maintain market access for our fresh produce. Our biosecurity is a key competitive advantage – we must protect it.
Beyond the damage an exotic disease would cause to local producers and communities, it could close access to international markets for other agricultural commodities; subsequently becoming disease free would not automatically re-open the door to trade. Our international competitors would act swiftly to force our primary producers out of the market. Adequate resourcing for first responding agencies is essential to quickly eradicating an exotic disease and protecting our industries.
Awareness and education
A $20 million public awareness campaign is needed to build greater awareness of biosecurity and to ensure the wider community upholds their general biosecurity duty, for the benefit of the environment and our agricultural industries.
On 1 July 2017, the new Biosecurity Act 2015 came into effect, providing for a ‘general biosecurity duty’ for all citizens, along with a ‘tenure neutral’ approach to the management of biosecurity risks. The major changes outlined in the new legislation have not been supported by public awareness-raising campaigns.
There are significant and enforceable penalties in the new legislation that many citizens are unaware exist; fewer still would know of, or understand, the requirements they have to manage their biosecurity risk. NSW Farmers believes a major public awareness campaign is urgently needed to safeguard our state’s biosecurity and preserve our sector.
Managing fruit fly
NSW Farmers is seeking $5 million over four years to support a community trapping and education program for Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF). The trial, proposed for the Griffith region, would include communication material for residents and two rounds of mass trapping (occurring approximately three months apart).
The Griffith region produces large quantities of citrus for both the export market and domestic consumption. A requirement of these markets is that no QFF is detected during the growing and harvesting seasons. A community trapping program would achieve the following:
- Assist the horticultural industry in monitoring for QFF
- Educate the community on the importance of biosecurity and the damage of QFF
- Show community support for its local agricultural industries
- Help reduce the presence of QFF in backyard fruit trees
Since 2015, Victoria has operated a successful QFF trapping program which focuses on areas with large incursions of QFF. The program includes information about QFF and encourages residents within the identified regions to hang traps and amulets, sent to residents, to assist in supporting the local agricultural industries. Two traps are sent to residents, the BioTrap and Amulet, which are used to attract and kill male and female fruit flies before they mate and produce eggs.
Additionally, we propose a New South Wales Fruit Fly Action Plan to mirror both the state and regional approaches implemented by Victoria through the development of regional plans for the North Coast, Mid-North Coast, Sydney Basin and Central Coast, Central Tablelands and Lachlan, and the Riverina fruit and vegetable producing regions.
Flying fox netting scheme extension
NSW Farmers is seeking $3 million over the next four years to allow the remaining orchardists who have not accessed netting to protect their properties against ongoing flying fox incursions, and to allow orchardists the opportunity to better plan the installation of netting for their business. With flying fox populations being identified in new locations, ongoing vigilance to manage these invasive native species is essential to preserving our horticulture industries.
Neglected and abandoned orchards
NSW Farmers is seeking ongoing funding to continue the management of neglected and abandoned orchards across the state. Through the DPI, much has been achieved through engagement with landowners to reduce the prevalence of abandoned orchards – this work must continue to ensure our multi-million dollar fruit growing industry is not placed at risk by pests harboured in neglected trees. An ongoing investment of $2 million over four years will see this valuable work continued.