2016 Spring - Can Australia’s biosecurity standards survive in a free trade era?

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FPJ1303D - Chapman, T (2016), Where there is Export Opportunity there is Always a Biosecurity Risk… is Australian Horticulture Ready for Both?

FPJ1303D - Chapman, T (2016), Where there is Export Opportunity there is Always a Biosecurity Risk… is Australian Horticulture Ready for Both?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 13, no. 3, Spring 2016, pp. 23-31, Surry Hills, Australia.

Australia’s horticultural industry, represented by the Voice of Horticulture, regards biosecurity as crucial for its reputation as a sustainable producer of premium safe food. Biosecurity standards enable horticultural producers’ security of production (due to the absence of pests and diseases) and access to export markets. The opening up of free trade agreements allows Australian horticulture growers and exporters access to new markets. This does however have a flip side. As our markets open up, so do Australian domestic markets to other countries allowing horticultural products from around the world. This, along with increasing tourism to regional areas, can have impacts on biosecurity measures. The Voice of Horticulture believes that phytosanitary standards and quarantine procedures for market access need to be based on sound science for both imports and exports. To achieve this, a strong research, development and extension focus with investment and resources needs to be maintained. The current shared responsibility model of biosecurity needs to be well communicated through education, extension and execution to the grassroots horticultural communities. This is crucial, as these are the people who will notice signs of pest and diseases at a production level first. Economically, a failure of biosecurity can impact the producers/growers input costs, market access for exports, and have an impact on rural and regional communities. The Voice of Horticulture would like to see Australia maximising science and technology opportunities along with a broader understanding of biosecurity risks, consequences, responsibilities and benefits, delivered through extension, education and engagement. This is integral to improving Australia’s biosecurity operating environment, backed with an apolitical approach and supporting levels of policy and governance, with these measures Australia may have a chance of surviving in a free trade era.

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