Farmers welcome state biosecurity strategy

The state’s peak farm advocacy body has welcomed the release of the NSW Government’s draft Biosecurity and Food Safety Strategy.

The draft strategy, launched by NSW agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders in his keynote address at the NSW Farmers Annual Conference last week, builds upon the state’s major biosecurity spend in this year’s budget and aims to keep the critical issue front and centre.

NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin said Australia's biosecurity system was recognised around the world as being strong and effective, and welcomed Minister Saunders’ efforts to bolster protections.

“Good biosecurity brings benefits to our economy, our unique environment and our agricultural industry – Australia remains free of many significant pests and diseases enabling globally competitive and sustainable industries,” Mr Martin said.

“A strong biosecurity system is critical to the agricultural industry growing to a $30 billion industry by 2030. 

“There are many threats, such as foot and mouth disease and lumpy skin disease, that if detected would see our $30 billion goal become instantly unattainable, and the effects would be felt across the economy, society and environment.”

The draft strategy identified resourcing as a key weakness, and Mr Martin said all jurisdictions needed to work together to ensure capability and expertise around biosecurity.

“NSW is fortunate to have the professional expertise of the Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services, and I think our state sets the bar around what other states and the Commonwealth need to work towards. 

“Projections indicate NSW will face, at a minimum, a 10 per cent increase in biosecurity responses per annum, and we know surveillance and early detection is critical.

“All responsible agencies must have long-term, sustainable funding to ensure we have a robust surveillance system to pick up pests and diseases early.”

Mr Martin said the strategy identified the importance of a sustainable funding base, something NSW Farmers had long called for.

“This is the critical element – it must go beyond budget cycles and political cycles – because a strong biosecurity system must have surveillance and diagnostics, skilled staff, and effective traceability systems,” he said.

“The challenges with biosecurity threats are only growing with increased movement and travel, and also climate change, and I’d encourage farmers to get involved in the draft strategy consultation to ensure it protects our industry from pests and disease. 

“I want to thank the Minister for his time at our conference last week and for launching this important document – we look forward to both this final strategy and the federal strategy so we can be better-prepared for the escalating biosecurity risks.”

Date: Monday, July 25, 2022
Media Contact: Steve Mudd  | 0429 011 690 | [email protected]