The announcement late yesterday of a further extension to the fruit fly control zone in Northern Tasmania is disappointing but understandable, according to the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA).

TFGA CEO Peter Skillern said that the organisation supported the extension but reiterated the TFGA’s expectations in relation to dealing with the incident in the State.

“We expect appropriate signage to be implemented immediately in the expanded area, along with other protocols to ensure that relevant fruit and vegetables are not transported to other parts of the State without the appropriate treatments,’’ he said.

“The extent of this incursion is now seriously threatening the financial and agricultural viability of many of our members. The TFGA is calling upon the Government to provide further funding for those affected in the two recent expansion areas.

“We are aware that members from these areas are now dealing with a high level of anxiety about the current situation and their future. The TFGA is also calling upon the Government to recognise the very difficult working environment that biosecurity staff at the coal face are dealing with. These dedicated staff need to be appropriately resourced and supported to remain effective in what will be a long-term battle against this insidious pest.”

Mr Skillern highlighted that the fruit fly incursion posed a threat not only to agriculture, but the broader Tasmanian economy.

“If this is not eradicated there is a very real threat to regional jobs and the Tasmanian brand reputation of many fruit and vegetables,’’ he said.

“We are encouraged by the initial response from Biosecurity Tasmania to our recently publicised expectations and will continue to work closely with them to ensure they are implemented. The TFGA is working proactively with its members to highlight any potential avenues for breaches of the exclusion zone. This information is being passed on to Biosecurity Tasmania when needed.”

The TFGA has urged all Tasmanians to recognise that this issue is a shared responsibility, and that everyone has a stake in a strong biosecurity system in this State.
TFGA CEO Peter Skillern