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GRAIN CENTRAL | GPA, NSW Farmers voice concerns about fire ants to inquiry

GRAIN Producers Australia has called for more research into the potential impacts of red imported fire ants as the pest threatens to spread to broadacre regions.

Last year, the discovery of RIFA at Murwillumbah in New South Wales and detections at Toowoomba in southern Queensland increased the concerns of the grains industry that major growing regions could become infested with the pest.

A further detection in January at Wardell in NSW further added to the biosecurity risk for the grains industry.

GPA chief executive Colin Bettles put forward the case for more research at a recent public hearing held as part of a Federal Government Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee inquiry into RIFA.

In an opening statement tabled in parliament, Mr Bettles said it was vital to “ensure we take a scientific and evidence-based approach to policy development and solutions”.

He said GPA has recently held discussions with the Grains Research and Development Corporation and Plant Health Australia to try to initiate a research project aimed at developing a fact-based understanding of RIFA’s impact on local grain crops.

“This is in contrast to the continued reliance on studies from the US, which claim ‘farmers can expect anywhere from 15pc to as much as 95pc damage to grain crops if fire ants are found on their land’.

 “These overseas studies focus on crops such as soybean, which are not major crops in Australia.”


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