CYCLONE DEBBIE: Information and support available on QFF Farmer Disaster Support site HERE

Biosecurity

Biosecurity incursions are one of Queensland agriculture’s greatest business risks with exotic pests, diseases and weeds having a potentially crippling impact on plant and animal production systems across the state.

The ongoing threats and costs associated with managing endemic animal and plant pests, which producers face daily, decreases profitability as does the added burden of compliance to quarantine controls when accessing domestic and international markets for our food, fibre and foliage.

QFF commitment to Biosecurity

QFF and industry members are committed to being constructive biosecurity partners. Pre-border, border and post-border prevention, awareness and management strategies all remain essential to understanding and engaging in the biosecurity continuum. We continue to engage our biosecurity responsibility in a meaningful and considered manner. Agriculture will continue playing its part in ensuring Queensland’s economy, environment, health and way of life is not adversely impacted by exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

Holding Government to account

QFF and industry members have and continue to provide government with a constant critique of the biosecurity system in Queensland to ensure the highest biosecurity risks are addressed and managed. The QFF Biosecurity and Quarantine Committee is the forum that brings the 15 industry members together to openly discuss biosecurity issues, identify common ground and prioritise areas for investment, cooperation, regulation and enforcement.

QFF has consistently supported and argued that Queensland must have a robust and rigorous biosecurity system that has the capability and capacity to prevent the introduction of exotic pests, diseases and weeds.

The system must be supported by surveillance structures for early detection plus have the ability to rapidly react to threats. Biosecurity Queensland must be appropriately resourced to undertake its statutory duty and manage the high risk pathways of northern Australia, including the gulf country, the Torres Strait and Cape York Peninsular along with our usual air and sea ports of entry.

General Biosecurity Obligations

QFF has been supportive of the State Government’s move towards General Biosecurity Obligations (GBO), recognising the concept as the best available method to achieve effective biosecurity. The GBO puts the responsibility on each individual; be they a large scale producer or hobby farmer, to ensure they are minimising their biosecurity risk.

A combined effort is needed by both government and industry to combat plant and animal biosecurity threats. Industry is the best source of knowledge on industry specific biosecurity risks and how to combat outbreaks.

Industry Biosecurity Responsibility

QFF believes that industry should be given responsibility over their biosecurity obligations. However, if industry is to take on the ownership of this responsibility there must be a vested interest in compliance.

QFF agrees with the government’s move towards devolving responsibility for biosecurity to the individual producer. However, government should develop programs in conjunction with industry that allow for a comprehensive risk assessment and management of biosecurity for individual producers. This would ensure that an adequate transfer of responsibility takes place, rather than the government simply cost shifting its obligation.

Government must provide the legislative framework that will allow for greater industry participation in the biosecurity system free of over burdensome bureaucracy, administrative duplication and inappropriate fees.

Both plant and animal Industries need to develop appropriate biosecurity management systems which can be implemented by all producers. These biosecurity management systems need to reflect the risks posed by both endemic and imported pests, diseases and weeds.

A collaborative arrangement between Biosecurity Queensland and industry may in fact help leverage the current resource base for Biosecurity Queensland through co-regulation.

Industry’s Biosecurity role

Industry is playing its part in the biosecurity efforts. Industry led research and development often has a strong biosecurity focus and most commodity organisations are members of either Plant or Animal Health Australia and their respective emergency pest response deeds e.g. EPPRD and EADRA.

Devolving responsibility for managing of producer databases for each industry to their peak bodies may result in significant savings for government and offer greater flexibility of data use; e.g. natural disaster responses, etc. Industry levies and fighting funds are a mechanism that some industries can, and have, utilised to partner with government in proactively combating biosecurity threats.

Strong Biosecurity into the future

Biosecurity Queensland must improve its overall service delivery to a standard accepted and expected by industry and the community. Additionally, it must embrace a culture where working to facilitate outcomes with partners is the priority over the process.

A comprehensive and cohesive biosecurity system supports Queensland’s reputation as a clean and green producer of food, fibre and foliage. This current reputation is essential to our future prospects as an international exporter of agricultural produce.

Through government, industry and community the biosecurity partnership in Queensland can improve and deliver higher quality outcomes that realise economic efficiencies and maintain our relative pest, disease and weed freedom.