The Victorian Farmers Federation is calling for increased investment in biosecurity monitoring at our borders and harsher penalties for those caught with prohibited animal and plant products.
VFF president David Jochinke said that followed the recent detection of African swine fever and Foot and Mouth Disease found in pork products declared and seized at Australian airports and mailing centres.
“Australia’s national biosecurity is critical for our food, beverage and tourism sectors. We have seen Foot and Mouth outbreaks in other countries and what it has done to their economies,” he said.
“We know 283 illegal pork products were detected at the border in a two week period. Of these, 40 were infected with African swine fever and three with Foot and Mouth Disease. We only need one infected product to go undetected to jeopardise our whole industry.
“We need more investment in federal and state biosecurity controls and greater deterrence through harsher penalties for deliberate breaches of our import standards.
“We also need more education and tougher sanctions for travellers entering the country.”
Mr Jochinke said the current penalties were no more than a slap on the wrist.
“They are an insult to Australia’s food, beverage, and tourism sectors when a Foot and Mouth outbreak could cost Australia close to $50 billion over 10 years,” he said.