Pineapple IRA a 'slap in the face': Growcom

Pineapple IRA a 'slap in the face': Growcom

Horticulture
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PEAK industry representative body for pineapples, Growcom, said the final pineapple Impact Risk Assessment for Malaysian imports released earlier this month was a slap in the face for the industry and

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PEAK industry representative body for pineapples, Growcom, said the final pineapple Impact Risk Assessment (IRA) for Malaysian imports released earlier this month was a slap in the face for the industry and put pineapple growers' futures on the line.

Chief executive officer Alex Livingstone said the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) - formerly Biosecurity Australia - had dismissed the Australian pineapple industry's concerns about two serious disease threats in releasing the final Pineapple IRA for fresh de-crowned pineapple imports from Malaysia.

Mr Livingstone said Growcom and the State DAFF had provided detailed scientific submissions on the potential risks posed by bacterial fruit collapse and heart rot.

However, the final IRA, while acknowledging the submissions, had changed little from the draft version.

"The IRA allows relatively unrestricted access for Malaysian pines and has not recommended any special quarantine protocols for these two diseases, dismissing them as minor risks," Mr Livingstone said.

The only pests identified to require quarantine measures to manage risks to a very low level in order to achieve Australia's appropriate level of protection (ALOP) were four species of mealybugs, he added.

"It appears that avenues for appeal for the Australian pineapple industry have been exhausted since any further action against the Pineapple IRA must be based on concerns about process rather than science."

Chris Fullerton, Chairman of the Pineapple Growers Advancement Group (PGAG), is a fourth generation pineapple grower whose family has farmed in the Sunshine Coast area for 100 years.

Mr Fullerton said the two diseases posed a significant and unacceptable risk to an iconic Queensland industry.

"These pathogens were identified by industry and our biosecurity partners (QDAFF, Plant Health Australia, consulting agronomists and independent scientists) in the biosecurity deed with Plant Health Australia (PHA) in 2008 as our greatest biosecurity threats," he said.

"The Australian government is apparently prepared to jeopardise Australia's 'clean and green' status and allow this risk to pineapple growers.

"This treatment of our industry is a severe blow to the morale of stakeholders and could curtail future investment and expansion, despite promising developments in new varieties."

Mr Fullerton asked if it was appropriate the level of risk was judged to be acceptable by people who would never have to face the consequences should the worst occur.

"We see no public good in imposing this major biosecurity risk to domestic production."

The story Pineapple IRA a 'slap in the face': Growcom first appeared on Farm Online.

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