A robust and science-based approach to biosecurity is required to protect Australia’s agriculture from pests and diseases and underpins a competitive advantage of Australian produce ahead of competitor nations in global markets.
Australia’s pest and diseasefree status allows more efficient and productive farming and is important to the safety of the wider community and the environment. Our ‘safe and green’ reputation also gives our food and fibre a strong competitive advantage over other nations in global markets and positions Australian produce as premium product that can attracts premium prices. Our existing, new and emerging markets increasingly demand high-quality and safe food.
Biosecurity and quarantine have become topics of increasing public awareness and discussion, particularly as heightened importance, both at home and in our global markets is placed on food safety and traceability. The modernised Biosecurity Bill 2014 comes into effect in 2016 and will install a new biosecurity framework for Australia. This will include a general biosecurity obligation requiring farmers to take an active role in managing the biosecurity risks under their control and an onus upon them to take a riskbased approach in ensuring pests and diseases are not spread.
It will be critical farmers understand this regime so they are able to successfully put it into action. A collaborative and cooperative approach between the agriculture industry and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is therefore required to make sure our outstanding biosecurity record remains in tact. The NFF believes this will be best done by a dedicated biosecurity liaison officer who trains and informs farmers about the new regime.
What the industry needs
To maintain Australia’s pest and disease free status, the NFF would suggest the following measures:
- Improve stakeholder engagement with biosecurity through the establishment of a Biosecurity liaison officer from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
policy and program capacity within the Department of Agriculture and Water
Resources, including biosecurity expertise.
- Implement the new Biosecurity Bill 2014 and
associated regulations that will provide a strong and science based biosecurity