Jeff Russell has been the grains biosecurity officer for Western Australia since October 2010.
Managed by Plant Health Australia, the national Grains Farm Biosecurity Program was launched in 2007. It is funded by growers through Grain Producers Australia together with the New South Wales, Queensland, South Australian, Victorian and Western Australian governments. In this article, Jeff takes time out from his busy schedule to answer some questions about himself and the role.
· How did you become involved in agriculture?
While growing up in the city, my Mum’s family were wheat and sheep farmers at Badgebup in WA’s Great Southern region. Many a school holiday was spent on the farm with our cousins. This helped build an interest in agriculture and being science-minded ultimately agriculture research.
· What are your aims as a biosecurity officer?
To provide growers with the necessary information and tools, and share ideas to protect their farms and build resilient businesses.
· What do you enjoy most about your role as a biosecurity officer?
Being out and about talking to growers and industry at regional updates and field days.
· Are there priorities specific to your region? What are the top three?
The WA grain industry is very dependent on global export markets, so working with all sectors of the industry to preserve our reputation as a supplier of high quality product free of pest and chemical residues is of utmost importance.
Key priorities include industry stakeholders being aware of the likely exotic pests to be of concern; having good systems to detect pests before they arrive in Australia, and in the event of entry being able to detect them to achieve successful eradication.
· Give an example of how your work with the Grains Farm Biosecurity Program has helped the industry
I was involved with the team in the early development of the ‘MyPestGuide’ smartphone App. This App has now developed a national profile in the use of Citizen Science surveillance exercises such as the Biosecurity Blitz and Pantry Blitz, along with a number of other specific surveillance activities across plant industries in general. It is simple yet robust and has a track record of success.
· What’s one thing you wish more growers would do to reduce their biosecurity risk?
Build biosecurity actions into their farm’s business plan.
· What’s your vision for the future of biosecurity in Australia?
The provision of a nationally co-ordinated pest surveillance system that is adequately funded to cover all points of entry.
Contact details: Email email@example.com Phone 08 9690 2229 Mob: 0447 851 801