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AUSVEG to consult with growers to raise biosecurity levies

Peak industry body AUSVEG has announced its intention to consult with industry to raise the Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levies for the vegetable and fresh potato industries to fund contributions to the management response to the tomato potato psyllid (TPP).
The vegetable and fresh potato industries’ Emergency Plant Pest Response levies were put in place in 2012 following extensive industry consultation to provide a mechanism for the vegetable and fresh potato industries to fund preparedness and eradication activities to reduce the threat of exotic plant pests. They are currently set at the rate of zero per cent for vegetables and zero cents per tonne for fresh potatoes, both at the first point of sale.  
The incidence of such incursions, and so the threat of a significant financial impact to growers, is increasing and the EPPR levies are an important means the industry has to co-ordinate resources and responses to effectively deal with these threats.
TPP was detected in Western Australia in February this year and has been detected in multiple locations in the state, with the majority of detections having been in the Perth metropolitan area. TPP is a common vector for Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum (CLso), a bacterium that causes zebra chip in potato. This bacterium has not been detected in Australia so far.
Following notification to industry and an objection period, AUSVEG intends to request that the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources:
  • Increase the vegetable EPPR levy from zero per cent to a positive rate of 0.01 per cent of the value at the point of sale; and
  • Increase the fresh potato EPPR levy from zero cents per tonne to a positive rate of 10 cents per tonne at the point of sale.
If the EPPR levies are successfully increased, it is intended that the accrued funds will contribute to paying costs relating to TPP eradication activities and the 12-month Transition to Management program that aims to give industry the tools and protocols it needs to manage the pest from May 2018, when the Transition to Management program concludes.
Other horticulture industries will also contribute to the TPP response, which totals over $5.1 million and will be cost shared between government and industry at a ratio of 80:20.
When added to collection of the research and development levies, this would increase current levy collection from vegetable growers from 0.5 per cent to 0.51 per cent and from fresh potato growers from 50 cents per tonne to 60 cents per tonne.
Vegetable and fresh potato industry levy payers will be notified of the 30-day objection period and the method of lodging objections to AUSVEG or the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Quotes attributable to AUSVEG CEO James Whiteside:
“Our industry has never had to deal with TPP before, although it has caused a tremendous amount of damage in other places around the world where it is more widely established, including the U.S.A., Central America, New Zealand and Norfolk Island.”
“Federal and state governments are making a significant contribution to this response – raising the EPPR levies is an important step to ensure our industry meets its obligations to contribute to this response.”
“It is expected that EPPR rates of 0.01 per cent for vegetables and 10 cents per tonne for fresh potatoes will accrue around $187,000 and $130,000 annually (respectively) based on 2016/17 figures and fluctuations in total farm-gate sales over recent years.”
“The estimated contributions per year for vegetable growers are $10.00 for small farms, $45.00 per year for medium farms and $300.00 per year for large farms. For potato growers the estimated contributions are $5.00 for small farms, $50.00 per year for medium farms and $500.00 per year for large farms.”
“The incursion of TPP in Western Australia has been devastating for potato and vegetable growers in the state and has potentially wide-reaching trade restrictions for growers around the country. It is vital that the industry is successful in raising these levies so that we can fund the implementation of a management plan that will limit TPP’s impact on growers around the country.”
For more information:
Shaun Lindhe
Tel: +61 (03) 9882 0277
Mob: +61 0405 977 789

Publication date: 12/13/2017



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