A national approach to better combat biosecurity threats

The National Biosecurity Committee (NBC) has endorsed new national biosecurity Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) priorities, giving a more unified, strategic and nationally-consistent focus to biosecurity research.

Head of biosecurity policy at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Matthew Koval, said the new priorities would support improved national biosecurity outcomes.

“While our island status provides us with a natural barrier to protect us from exotic pests and diseases to a certain extent, it also means we have an enormous border to protect. Managing Australia’s biosecurity system is a big job,” Mr Koval said.

“RD&E underpins our risk-based approach to managing our biosecurity system, which helps concentrate our efforts on the areas of greatest risk, in a landscape that is changing rapidly and growing in complexity and challenges.

“The six priorities that the NBC has endorsed—prevention, preparedness, eradication, containment, management, and communication—will help target our efforts to the biosecurity risks of most concern—both existing and emerging—from a national perspective.

“Australia’s biosecurity system already saves the average farmer $17,500 a year. These priorities will direct investment to ensure biosecurity RD&E continues to deliver tangible benefits at the farm gate, while carefully targeting our research efforts to find collective solutions.

“The biosecurity RD&E priorities align with the Rural R&D priorities outlined in the Agricultural Competitiveness White paper, designed to ensure that RD&E can be translated to genuine and tangible benefits and returns on-farm.

“Through the $180.5 million Rural R&D for Profit Programme, work is already underway on projects that align with these priorities, like the $6.8 million plant pest surveillance network announced earlier this year which will monitor and report on threats to major primary production industries like grains, cotton, horticulture, wine and forestry.

“This project will provide farmers with the intelligence they need, through automated trapping and sampling technologies, to guard against endemic pests such as fruit fly, as well as exotic pests such as karnal blunt or Khapra beetle.

“Australia’s national biosecurity system aims to minimise the impact of pest and disease incursions on the nation’s agricultural sector, our environment and community, and the broader community, while protecting our international reputation for high-quality and safe agricultural produce.

The NBC endorsed the following national biosecurity RD&E priorities:

  • Prevention – Data and intelligence (prevent exotic pests and diseases from entering and establishing in Australia)
  • Preparedness – Surveillance and diagnostics (understand an quantify the impact of pests and diseases)
  • Eradication – Treatment and recovery (demonstrate the absence of pests and diseases)
  • Containment – Risk and decision tools (improved decision-making tools and risk analysis)
  • Management – General surveillance (manage the pests and diseases that are already in Australia)
  • Communication, community attitudes and awareness (socioeconomic drivers of adopting best practice)

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