$200 million biosecurity boost good for all Australians
5 July 2015
A $200 million funding increase for biosecurity across Australia will protect farmers, encourage growth for the future, and will also benefit all Australians.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said the strategic need to focus on biosecurity was a strong theme in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, and this initiative represented a significant investment in the system that underpins our agricultural productivity.
"This $200 million over four years will improve our ability to understand, detect and respond to pests and diseases that could hurt our farmers, rural communities, agricultural productivity and economy," Minister Joyce said.
"It will build intelligence and scientific expertise and put more boots on the ground. It will also support development in the north and ensure the northern barrier remains intact.
"Northern Australia faces unique risks that are different from those in other parts of Australia—it's sparsely populated, mere kilometres from our nearest neighbour and has a tropical climate—all of which makes it especially receptive to many potentially harmful pests and diseases.
"This Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper is providing a strong basis to a region that is central to building wealth for Australia, both now and into the future. This significant suite of initiatives complements this government's strengthened commitment to the biosecurity of this nation following our delivery of the Biosecurity Act 2015 and the government's National Stronger Biosecurity and Quarantine Initiative.
"Keeping exotic and destructive pests and diseases out of Australia makes sense when we have economic modelling to show that an outbreak of the livestock disease, foot-and-mouth, could cost the Australian economy $50 billion over 10 years—that's about the same value as agriculture's entire production for one year.
"This White Paper is looking for win-wins. We know that from a consumer's point of view good biosecurity lowers the cost of the food they buy, and our farmers know that it saves them $12,000 to $17,500 per farm per year. CSIRO has found that 25 per cent of the price of the food we eat is due to the costs of managing the weeds, pests and diseases that are already here.
"There is a clear public good in stopping more of these pests and diseases from establishing in Australia for our consumers—as well as for our customers overseas."
The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper also provides an additional $12.4 million over four years to modernise Australia's traceability systems. This will provide even greater assurance that the agricultural goods we send to trading partners can be traced quickly to the point of origin so the source of any disease or residue contamination can be effectively managed.
The White Paper was informed by comprehensive stakeholder consultation—more than 1000 submissions were received and the government talked face-to-face with more than 1100 people across the country in developing this document. The White Paper is available at agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au.