Robust biosecurity system essential as Australian agriculture industry set to make history

The Australian agriculture industry is set to make history this financial year with a forecast to reach $78 billion in value.

According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) latest outlook released recently, both crop growers and livestock producers will see record values of $43 billion and $33.4 billion respectively.

These are welcome figures indeed for Australian producers who have been faced with droughts, fires, floods, plagues, and the trade impacts of COVID-19 in recent years.

Animal Health Australia (AHA) and Plant Health Australia (PHA) welcome this prosperous news but remain vigilant; with many animal and plant diseases at our doorstep – which could rapidly and significantly derail the track toward the record-breaking figures – ongoing investment to protect the livelihood of producers and the end-to-end supply chain has never been more important.

CEO of Animal Health Australia, Kathleen Plowman, said the announcement of a Commonwealth Biosecurity 2030 Roadmap reiterates the importance of maintaining robust biosecurity management practices.

“Even with a highly effective biosecurity system, there is still a risk that new pests and diseases will enter the country. A large multi-state Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Australia could cost an estimated $5 billion per year until its eradication,” Ms Plowman said.

“Biosecurity equals food security. Without a strong biosecurity system, our economy and our Australian way of life will suffer and diminish.

“Biosecurity enhances our ability to manage the risk of pests and diseases entering, emerging, establishing or spreading in Australia,” Ms Plowman said.

Both AHA and PHA are coordinators for government-industry partnerships and improve national biosecurity outcomes by bringing together stakeholders to share knowledge, experience, and, ultimately, responsibility, by joining forces to address biosecurity threats and prevent their arrival.

CEO of Plant Health Australia, Sarah Corcoran, said our biosecurity system relies on strong partnerships:

“Damage to plants caused by pests and disease varies across species, but it’s estimated that 20 - 40 per cent of crops are lost every year,” Ms Corcoran said.

When considering the impacts of pests and diseases in the context of the invasion curve, the return on investment in prevention at the beginning of the curve is higher than the economic return of ongoing management, making a strong case for continued investment in preparedness activities."

Sarah Corcoran, CEO, Plant Health Australia

“Farm biosecurity is an example of how good biosecurity practices enable producers to identify and reduce the risks posed by diseases, pests and weeds. Biosecurity is part of the Australian value proposition, adding value to our highly reputable agricultural products both domestically and internationally,” Ms Corcoran said.

Identifying exotic pest and disease threats, the ways in which they may enter Australia and prioritizing threats according to their potential impact allows the most serious risks to be targeted.

Strong investment in biosecurity activities such as surveillance, pathway analysis, border screening, inspection and planning enhances our ability to detect, identify, contain, and manage pests and diseases should they arrive.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoLifeSciences.
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