Citrus Australia Focuses on Biosecurity

Ernie Neff International

Citrus Australia recently applauded the federal government’s additional investment in national biosecurity and stated that it will seek an opportunity for additional dialogue on enhancing plant biosecurity.

The government announced $400 million in funding to enhance biosecurity over a four-year period. According to Citrus Australia, citrus exports alone are worth $500 million to the national economy annually. A pest incursion has the ability to stop exports 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,” Hancock said. “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 boost the national economy.”

“We welcome the chance to discuss provision for … measures against potentially devastating pests and diseases including huanglongbing (HLB) and the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP),” Hancock said. He added that HLB and the ACP that spreads it are on Australia’s doorstep.

Citrus Australia stated that prevention is critical to the Australian citrus industry, which has a farmgate value of $900 million. It reported that the government will invest $84 million over four years in frontline measures, including detector dogs, enhanced screening technology and diagnostic capabilities. It stated that the government will also invest $205.9 million over four years to improve the nation’s ability to detect and manage threats offshore.

Hancock said further funding will need to be allocated every year to meet the increased amount of passenger travel and international packages and freight. “Citrus Australia places a heavy emphasis on biosecurity, but the entire horticulture industry needs to be supported,” he said. “We are only as strong as the weakest link.”

Source: Citrus Australia

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