Grain Producers Australia is anticipating next week’s federal budget delivering a notable shift towards strengthening biosecurity protections, with more secure and sustainable funding.
GPA Chair, Barry Large, said Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt’s comments to media last week at the Port of Brisbane were noted by grain producers as a positive sign of what’s ahead.
Mr Large – who also Chairs the GPA Biosecurity Committee – said the upcoming federal budget will now test whether the Minister’s promising words were matched by investment and actions.
“Because we live with the consequences, grain producers understand the critical importance of shared responsibilities and having a strong biosecurity system to prevent the incursion of exotic pests and diseases that could totally devastate farm production and trade,” he said.
“That’s why GPA works in partnership with Plant Health Australia and collaborates with other stakeholders to help manage biosecurity risks and emergency responses, such as varroa.
“We’ve long advocated for the introduction of a levy on imported sea containers to improve the biosecurity system, with a fairer financial contribution from risk-creators and shared responsibilities.
“We’re now looking towards next week’s federal budget in anticipation of genuine steps being taken to deliver a more sustainable and stronger biosecurity system, with better safeguards for growers.
“With record crops over the past two years with a combined valued of about $56 billion and 130 million tonnes, the timing and need for investment in tougher biosecurity has never been more pertinent.”
Pic: GPA Chair, Barry Large (right) with with WA Grains Biosecurity Officer Jeff Russell.
GPA Chief Executive Colin Bettles said with the global population continuing to expand to 10 billion by 2050, and food production facing greater challenges, along with increasingly complex global trade and human movements, our biosecurity systems needed to be future-proofed.
“A stronger biosecurity system with sustainable funding will ensure we can properly manage these increasing risks, so Australian grain producers and industry can continue playing our critical role feeding and fuelling Australians and the world,” he said.
“A tiny hitchhiker pest such as Khapra beetle poses a $15.5 billion threat to the Australian grains industry and would also have dire consequences for rural communities and economies.
“Next week’s budget needs to demonstrate real intent to ensure we’re taking the necessary steps towards delivering this stronger biosecurity system that’s long been talked about.
“Australia’s a big country with a significant number of potential pathways for these tiny devastating pests and diseases to enter.
"We need a biosecurity system underpinned by a more fair, secure and sustainable funding model, that’s equally focused on the job of managing these growing threats and risks, to properly protect our growers, industry and communities.”