Biosecurity incursions are one of Queensland agriculture’s greatest business risks with exotic pests, diseases and weeds having a potentially crippling impact on both plant and animal production systems and animal health and wellbeing across the state. Australia’s island status limits the risks from exotic pests and diseases but does not eliminate them. As the movement of people and goods around the globe increases, accompanying by changing environmental conditions, the number of biosecurity incursions is increasing.
Queensland pork producers are now bracing for their next challenge, African Swine Fever (ASF). The highly infectious and contagious viral disease of domestic and wild pigs is currently spreading through Europe and Asia with Indonesia the latest country to confirm an outbreak. In October, a screening operation of all passengers and crew of flights from high-risk ASF countries, 28 infringements and 17 written warnings were issued for illegal important of pork, chicken and beef products. A number of pork products that were seized were sent for ASF testing, 22 per cent of which returned a positive result for ASF. The Australian Government has since increased biosecurity funding by $66.6 million to further prevent the disease from entering Australia.
But it’s not the only biosecurity threat farmers are facing, with a cargo ship recently refused entry into Australia because of the biosecurity risk posed by the brown marmorated stink bugs detected on board. The bug attacks over 300 plants and crops including corn, soybean, apples, grapes and peaches. While Infectious Bursal Disease Virus was recently detected at two egg farms in New Zealand, which if such a disease became endemic in Australia, could threaten our clean and green farming credentials. So, it is imperative that all Australians and visitors adhere to biosecurity requirements both on-farm and in general, and report suspected breaches to Biosecurity Queensland immediately.
Queensland remains Australia’s frontline biosecurity state for many overseas visitors and products, which means we will continue to receive more than our fair share of incursions. Effective government, public and industry partnerships are critical to protecting our farming future as well as our native wildlife. And with the number of biosecurity interceptions showing no sign of reducing, we must maintain vigilance and continue to remind everyone that they have a general biosecurity obligation and a role to play.