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Queensland Grains Threatened

01 April 2011

AUSTRALIA - The Federal Government's decision to discontinue funding of the Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre (Plant Biosecurity CRC) next year will seriously threaten the safety and profitability of Queensland's grains industry, says state farm group AgForce.

AgForce Grains president Wayne Newton said a lack of funding to manage plant pests and diseases through the Plant Biosecurity CRC could put the $6.5 million Queensland grains industry at a risk comparable to the impact Foot and Mouth disease had on the reputation of the livestock industry.

“The Federal Government’s decision to cease funding of the Plant Biosecurity CRC puts Australian grain at direct risk of exotic plants and diseases.

“Queensland grain growers depend on Australia’s clean and green reputation to protect their vibrant export industry and as the impact of foot and mouth disease showed, even the perception of pests or diseases in Australian produce would have a swift negative impact on its reputation as a producer of safe, quality food products.

“The Plant Biosecurity CRC plays a vital role in locating and eliminating plant pests and diseases that threaten Australian grain. AgForce supports Grain Producers Australia’s calls to protect the Plant Biosecurity CRC and in turn ensure Australia maintains our reputation of being clean and green,” Mr Newton said.

Mr Newton said the Federal Government has simply failed to comprehend the impacts of removing these resources from the grains industry.

“Anything that threatens our reputation in global markets could result in an immediate loss of market access in export markets that demand pest-free crops. For example, an outbreak of the fungal disease Karnal Bunt is estimated to cost up to $1 billion a year for the wheat industry,” Mr Newton said.

“Grains Producers Australia, on behalf of AgForce, urges the federal government to reconsider this decision and include the Plant Biosecurity CRC in the second round of funding so the biosecurity of our industry can be protected.”

TheCropSite News Desk

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