Media Release

Emergency biosecurity measures to protect Australian carrots and celery

26 August 2014

International trading partners have been notified that Australia will implement emergency quarantine measures from 20 October this year to protect our carrot and celery industries from an exotic bacterial pathogen that has become widespread in Europe.

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the pathogen, 'Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum', causes leaf curling, leaf yellowing, stunting and root abnormalities in carrots and celery.  

"The government’s first priority is to protect our domestic industries from this exotic threat. Australia's carrot industry is worth more than $190 million a year, with celery valued at about $34 million," Minister Joyce said.

"Our biosecurity system is designed to ensure that Australia's unparalleled reputation as a producer of clean, green agriculture is maintained.

"My department has worked closely with stakeholders to develop quarantine standards that minimise any disruption of trade and provide the highest standard of protection for Australian producers.

"The emergency biosecurity measures will be implemented by 20 October 2014 in order to provide certainty to seed importers and producers against the emerging threat, however given that this bacterium has been identified early, there is no immediate threat to our domestic industries."

Minister Joyce said the bacterium had spread rapidly across geographically distant areas, including France, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Morocco; for this reason the emergency measures would apply to relevant imports from any country of origin.

"The evidence suggests this bacterium is spreading through the trade of carrot seeds and tissue culture, which is a significant concern to our industries," Minister Joyce said.

"Most Australian carrot crops are grown from imported seed, so the Australian carrot industry needs continued importation."

The emergency quarantine measures include heat treatment or molecular testing for carrot seeds as well as screening in post-entry quarantine facilities and molecular testing for carrot and celery tissue cultures.

The Department of Agriculture has been working closely with a range of stakeholders to develop suitable emergency import conditions, including AusVeg, the Australian Seed Federation and several major seed companies.

International stakeholders have been notified of the emergency measures through the World Trade Organization (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) notification system, with a 60 day implementation period.