SHEEP Producers Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s pledge of $371 million for biosecurity funding, in the lead up to the Federal Budget.
The peak sheep meat producer body said the sheep industry has been part of a widespread call for a boost in funding for biosecurity in agriculture.
The new $371 million biosecurity package was announced at Beef 2021 in Rockhampton yesterday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud.
“Protecting our borders is as much about protecting our livestock, crops and environment from diseases that have the potential to devastate them and the livelihoods they support, as it does the health of Australians during COVID-19 or protecting Australia’s national security,” Mr Morrison said.
“Australia’s biosecurity system protects $42 billion in inbound tourism, $53 billion in agricultural exports and 1.6 million Australian jobs across the supply chain.
“This investment is about building a protective ring around Australia to safeguard our industry as well as the rural and regional communities that depend on it,” he said.
“There will never be zero risk but we are committed to reducing the risk where possible.
“We need to make sure agriculture continues to play a leading role in our national economic recovery.”
SPA chief executive officer Stephen Crisp said the funding boost to biosecurity at Australia’s borders will allow the implementation of additional x-ray and other technologies, that will improve congestion, but more importantly increase the detection capacity at the border.
“Biosecurity is always a major focus of the sheep industry. Australian producers rely on a capable and effective biosecurity system to protect their businesses.
“In addition to detection at the border, on-farm surveillance and traceability policies are important for industry and government to maintain and safeguard our future,” he said.
“Industry and government must work together, and the continuing work and commitment of both parties is very encouraging.”
SPA said as identified in the recent Inspector General of Biosecurity’s report, there are deficiencies in the current biosecurity system at the border and biosecurity threats to Australia’s livestock industries can exacerbate delays to imported goods, some of which are relied upon by the sheep sector, already not helped by COVID-19, SPA said.
The Minister for Agriculture recently reported the detection of Foot and Mouth Disease virus fragments in seized meat products at the border, highlighting the need for proper resourcing to protect our livestock industries.
SPA said the sheep sector alone contributes over $6 billion to the Australian economy, most of which goes to regional Australia.
The body said biosecurity is a shared responsibility and it commended the Commonwealth Government for responding to calls for more funding to protect Australia’s premium lamb and mutton products.
SPA said it will continue to support progressive biosecurity and traceability policies that ensure Australian sheep producers are protected from disease, sustain their flock numbers, and maintain access to premium local and overseas markets.