Grower and industry delegates on the State’s GrainGuard committee expressed strong support for the biosecurity initiative at their first meeting of the year, saying its work was vital to the grains industry.
GrainGuard coordinator Jeff Russell said the GrainGuard committee would continue to meet regularly throughout the year to discuss issues critical for the safeguarding of Western Australia’s grains industry.
The current GrainGuard committee is comprised of grower and industry representatives, along with officers from the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA).
Mr Russell said the committee continued to strengthen links between the department and the grains industry to ensure strong biosecurity for Western Australia.
“The GrainGuard committee enables growers, industry and government to work together to assess and quickly respond to exotic pest outbreaks,” Mr Russell said.
“Since its inception in 1997, following the lupin anthracnose outbreak of 1996, it has played an essential role in safeguarding the grains industry from biosecurity threats.
“We have faced a number of pest incursions, such as the stripe rust outbreak in 2001 and the impact of wheat streak mosaic virus a few seasons later. Fortunately these were not too debilitating for the wheat industry.”
The Grains Industry Association of WA (GIWA) plays a key role in the make-up of the committee, through the provision of grower members who represent specific crop commodities.
Larger grower representative organisations, such as Pastoralists and Graziers Association and the Western Australian Farmers Federation, are also on the committee.
GIWA chairman and GrainGuard member Jon Slee said the importance of having industry and government working together to best ensure the security of the State’s grains industry from exotic pest threats could not, in any way, be under valued.
The first GrainGuard Committee meeting of the year brought delegates up to date on key issues currently faced by the industry.
The committee was briefed on the current status of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management Act and how it related to biosecurity regulations for the grains industry.
DAFWA Grain Industries Development Director Mark Sweetingham also presented an outline of the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre’s Grain Storage and Product Integrity program, which will focus on grains industry biosecurity and market access and trade.
Mr Russell said grains biosecurity was increasingly important to all stakeholders in the industry.
“This is particularly so with greater deregulation of the industry, the reliance on contractors by many larger farming enterprises and increased movement of people and machinery,” he said.