Date of issue: 04 July 2022
Date of effect: Immediate
Reference Number: MAA2022-02
Attention: Organic operators and exporters, organic certifying bodies, industry bodies
To advise of the requirements where treatment for fire ants by the National Fire Ant Eradication Program is conducted on a property that produces certified organic or bio- dynamic products for export.
- Fire Ants are considered a serious pest in Australia. They cause extensive damage to Australia’s ecological and agricultural systems.
- The National Fire Ant Eradication Program (NFAEP) is a nationally cost-shared program funded by all Australian state and territory governments, and the Federal Government.
- In 2001 the NFAEP was established to eradicate fire ants from Australia. As the combat state, the Queensland Government oversees the delivery of the national program which is delivered through Biosecurity Queensland.
- The product used by Biosecurity Queensland for treatment of fire ants is – Engage Ant Bait and Extinguish Professional fire ant bait (active – S-methoprene).
- Treatment is conducted by Biosecurity Queensland and occurs during the warmer months from September to May / June. The product is distributed in a pelletised form by air, all-terrain vehicle and / or foot.
- At this time, the treatment option used by Biosecurity Queensland is non-compliant with the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce (the National Standard) due to the presence of a non-approved chemical substance – S-methoprene.
- Under the Export Control (Organic Goods) Rules 2021, the export of organic or bio-dynamic goods is prohibited unless the exporter of the goods holds an organic goods certificate (OGC).
- This organic notice replaces the previously issued organic notice 2015-03.
- The NFAEP have located infestations of fire ants in various locations in Queensland that may impact some certified organic or bio-dynamic operators in these areas.
- It is compulsory for all property owners to allow Biosecurity Queensland to apply treatment for fire ants under the NFAEP. This includes certified organic or bio- dynamic operators.
- Goods that are contaminated as a result of this treatment must be prevented from being certified as organic or bio-dynamic, sold as organic/bio-dynamic and entering the export chain.
- All certified organic or bio-dynamic livestock must be removed from the affected area prior to application of the fire ant treatment.
- Where treatment for fire ants has occurred:
Produce that has had direct contact with treatment must not be sold as organic or bio-dynamic.
- Crops must not be sown or planted in the area(s) that were treated for a period of not less than three weeks after the date of bait application.
- Livestock must not be returned to the area(s) that were treated for a period of not less than three weeks after the date of bait application.
- If livestock are not removed prior to and from the area(s) that were treated, the livestock and/or its produce must not be sold as organic or bio-dynamic.
- Land and certified produce may be subject to sampling and laboratory analysis following treatment.
- The NFAEP have indicated that they will work with local farmers to strive for a minimal impact to their production:
- The NFAEP will determine the best treatment strategy for your property or work site.
- The NFAEP will provide notification to the certified operator where a property is within a treatment area. Biosecurity Queensland will endeavor to schedule treatment dates to best suit the production cycle on the affected certified organic or bio-dynamic property.
- Biosecurity Queensland will aim to apply fire ant treatments after crops have been harvested.
- Application of treatment for fire ants can only be conducted by Biosecurity Queensland.
- Certified operators are required to notify their approved certifying body prior to treatment for fire ants and within two business days of receipt of the ‘notice to treat' from the NFAEP.
- Certified operators must have a documented organic system plan to manage the treated area and any impacts to certification status. This will include:
- a map clearly defining treatment areas and the dates of all treatments
- documents that must state how treatment was applied
- measures taken to prevent direct contact with produce intended for sale as certified organic or bio-dynamic planting and harvest dates, and
- livestock movement records
- In the absence of satisfactory documentary evidence of compliance with this Notice, and where the NFAEP implements eradication action and prohibited substances and/or practices not consistent with the National Standard are applied:
- the approved certifying organization may give consideration to reducing, but not less than 12 months, the re-entry requirements for organic and Bio- Dynamic products, and
- relevant testing of products by a laboratory is required prior to re-entry, and
- approved certifying bodies will not issue an OGC for export of certified organic or bio-dynamic goods from the affected area(s) for at least 12 months from treatment with these products
Contact OrganicExports@awe.gov.au if you have any queries.
The information provided in this advice is current at the time of writing and is intended for use as guidance only and should not be taken as definitive or exhaustive. The Commonwealth endeavours to keep information current and accurate, however, it may be subject to change without notice. Exporters are encouraged to verify these details with their importers prior to undertaking production/exports. The Commonwealth will not accept liability for any loss resulting from reliance on information contained in this notice.