Australia has a world class biosecurity system, but as long as international trade and people movements occur, there will always be a risk of new plant pests entering the country. Pests can also be spread to Australia through natural means, such as wind and water currents.
An essential part of Australia’s plant biosecurity system is to rapidly eradicate or contain an incursion of an exotic plant pest. Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and growers are at the frontline in reporting suspect pests and diseases in their crops.
Since October 2005, Plant Health Australia (PHA) has been the custodian of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (the Deed, or EPPRD), a formal, legally binding agreement between PHA, the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, and PHA’s industry members.
The Deed binds industries and governments to a formal incursion response, sharing the responsibility and costs, based on a pre-agreed assessment of the relative private and public benefits of eradication.
PLANTPLAN, which is part of the Deed, outlines the agreed technical response plan used in the event of an incursion by an emergency plant pest. It outlines the roles of industry and governments in the decision making and operational processes of eradication responses. Industry signatories have a direct say on whether responses to plant pest incursions will occur and, if so, a clear role in decision making and funding these responses.
Emergency plant pests are categorised into four groups based solely on the public versus private benefit of eradication for government and industry parties, not the importance of the pest or the likelihood of eradication. For example, the response to an incursion of a category 1 pest, with a high level of impact on the public (like Sudden oak death), is 100% government funded. Whereas for a category 4 pest (like Western plant bug), with a greater degree of private impact, it’s 20% government and 80% industry funded.
Growers may be eligible for reimbursement of specific costs that result from an approved pest eradication response.
Generally, crops that incur a levy are covered under the Deed, but check with your industry to make sure. This is an important protection but one that is not guaranteed for members of non-signatory industries.
Reimbursement payments (Owner Reimbursement Costs; ORCs) may be made for costs incurred as a result of the implementation of an approved Response Plan. This may cover direct grower costs or losses caused by the destruction of crops, enforced fallow periods, replacement of trees and additional chemical treatments.
Calculation of reimbursements is done using different formulae, depending on the affected crops. For example, the ‘Perennial Trees’ formula is used for fruit tree crops. To ensure that the calculations for reimbursement are accurate, growers should keep records of the yield and value of their crops.
Biosecurity Online Training (BOLT) is a free web-based training program run by Plant Health Australia. Currently, there are three modules available:
• Foundation – a summary of the plant biosecurity system and the EPPRD
• Reporting a suspect emergency plant pest – when and how to report a new plant pest
• Honey bee biosecurity module – provides advice on keeping honey bees healthy using industry best practice