AUSVEG welcomes review of Australia's Biosecurity Import Risk Analysis process
Australia’s industry association of vegetable and potato growers, AUSVEG, has welcomed the announcement by the Federal Minister for Agriculture that the Federal Government will review the current process by which biosecurity threats are assessed.
“AUSVEG welcomes Minister Joyce’s statements today which recognise the urgent need to improve and strengthen the current process utilised for assessing potential biosecurity threats entering Australia,” said AUSVEG Manager – Government and Parliamentary Relations, Andrew White.
AUSVEG is Australia’s leading horticulture body representing around 9,000 vegetable and potato growers.
In a press conference in Tasmania on July 10, Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce announced that the Government was committed to ensuring Australia’s Import Risk Analysis process is able to effectively identify, analyse and respond to potential biosecurity risks.
“It is absolutely critical for Australian vegetable and potato producers that the Import Risk Analyses undertaken by the Department are executed with scientific rigor, and provide a clear justification for the risk assessments they make,” said Mr White.
“The Australian Government’s commitment to reviewing the IRA process supports the concerns that AUSVEG and other Australian horticulture industries have been raising for some time.”
The review of the IRA process is expected to take into account regional specific issues, factoring in existing state quarantine restrictions. The current ‘Risk Matrix’ process, which determines a potential level of a biosecurity risk, will also be examined.
“AUSVEG looks forward to working closely with the Department of Agriculture during the consultation phase of its IRA review, and will be strongly advocating that a greater level of scientific rigor and transparency be incorporated into future IRA processes.”
AUSVEG has repeatedly expressed concerns about the current IRA process, which was brought into sharp focus earlier this year when a Senate Committee recommended that a new Import Risk Analysis (IRA) be conducted in relation to the Zebra Chip disease complex in potatoes, which has significantly affected the New Zealand potato industry since 2008.
“AUSVEG is pleased that the Government has honoured its election commitment to develop a more robust IRA process. We look forward to reading the Department’s Discussion Paper to determine the implications for the Australian vegetable and potato industries,” said Mr White.