AUSVEG and Plant Health Australia (PHA) have taken steps to strengthen biosecurity practices on-farm and throughout the vegetable and potato industry through the appointment of a dedicated biosecurity specialist, who will work with growers nationally to boost protection from plant pests.
AUSVEG is the National Peak Industry Body representing 9,000 vegetable and potato growers around Australia, while PHA is the coordinator of plant biosecurity in Australia.
The officer will be responsible for implementing a biosecurity program to improve management of and preparedness for, biosecurity risks in the vegetable and potato industries at the farm gate and industry level.
The program, which will run from 1 January 2014 until 30 June 2016, is funded from the levy raised from producers to pay the AUSVEG subscriptions for membership of PHA and for other biosecurity activities.
According to Richard Mulcahy, CEO of AUSVEG, the engagement of a dedicated biosecurity officer signals how seriously the industry takes biosecurity.
“Growers have a role to play in biosecurity, as well as governments and industry bodies such as AUSVEG. This program aims to boost on-farm biosecurity by raising awareness among growers of the priority pest threats to the vegetable and potato industries and increasing the use of the best biosecurity practices on-farm.”
Mr Mulcahy said that many of these practices are already recommended in quality assurance and best management practice programs, so they will be familiar to many growers.
“Key on-farm biosecurity practices include restricting access of visitors to reduce the risk of introducing new pests and maintaining good farm hygiene,” Mr Mulcahy said.
“These are simple and inexpensive practices that provide a great deal of protection from pests for individual farms and for the industry.”
Greg Fraser, Executive Director and CEO of PHA, said that the initiative is a commendable example of the commitment to biosecurity by Australia’s peak plant industry bodies.
“In addition to promoting good on-farm biosecurity practices, the program will ensure that growers know about the exotic pests that we most want to keep out of Australia, such as the Tomato-potato psyllid,” Mr Fraser said.
“That’s important because should one of these potentially devastating pests get through border controls it’s essential that we find out quickly to give the best chance of eradicating it.”
AUSVEG will manage the operations of the program on a day-to-day basis with PHA providing administrative support. Mr Dean Schrieke has been appointed in the biosecurity officer role.
24 January 2014