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Farmers call for bolstered biosecurity budget
16 August 2019
Ensuring Australia's biosecurity is adequately resourced must be a number one priority for Government to protect the economy, the environment and agriculture from unwanted pests and diseases.
This is the message from the National Farmers' Federation.
The NFF is calling for government to prioritise the implementation of the Biosecurity Imports Levy. The levy would make available additional funding to strengthen biosecurity systems and protect against the incursion of pests and diseases.
"Our biosecurity system has a huge job to do," NFF Chief Executive Tony Mahar said.
"The volume of goods, people and vessels arriving in Australia each year continues to grow.
"By 2032 the number of imported sea containers alone is set to reach 19.4 million, an annual increase of 5.3 per cent. This movement creates increased biosecurity risk, which can threaten agriculture and the natural environment."
Mr Mahar said the Department of Agriculture had the 'massive' responsibility of delivering frontline biosecurity services.
"We are concerned that these services are already stretched to the limit.
"Australian farmers export 70 per cent of what they produce. Access to international markets depends on assurances of Australian produce being free from certain pests and diseases.
"A singular biosecurity incursion has the potential to bring one or more of our farm industries to its knees.
"We only have to look at the devastating impacts of the 2011 foot and mouth disease outbreak in the United Kingdom, as an example."
Mr Mahar said the NFF remained a strong supporter of the Biosecurity Imports Levy, which would generate the much needed revenue to reinforce and help modernise the biosecurity system so that it was fit for the challenges of today and into the future.
The Biosecurity Imports Levy would apply on incoming freight and its implementation was a key recommendation in the 2017 Independent Review of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Biosecurity (the Craik Review).
The levy was originally scheduled for introduction on 1 September, however this now seems unlikely, with the legislation to establish the levy yet to be introduced.
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