National Farmers' Federation

Budget must deliver sustainable biosecurity funding

Australia’s peak farm body is calling on the Government to make good on its promise to sustainably fund Australia’s biosecurity system in next week’s Federal Budget.

NFF Vice President David Jochinke said the surge in pressure on the biosecurity system meant the issue of insufficient funding couldn’t be ignored any longer.

“We have report after report going back more than a decade saying that the system is under resourced, and new funding models are needed.

“In recent times we have a Varroa mite outbreak on our shores, and potentially devastating Foot and Mouth Disease and Lumpy Skin Disease working their way across our region.

“We must make sure we adequately fund our system to prevent dangerous pest and diseases from arriving on our shores and manage those that already have.” Mr Jochinke said.

The latest plea from farmers comes as new economic modelling commissioned by the Invasive Species Council highlights pathways for greater cost recovery to fund the system going forward.

The report released today highlights measures such as levies on inbound air and sea freight, and increases to inbound passenger charges as sensible avenues to increase the sustainability and quantum of available funding.

“It’s only fair that those who create the biosecurity risk share the cost of managing that risk.

“Farmers already contribute heavily by funding traceability systems, biosecurity organisations, and meeting the cost of outbreaks. Farmers shouldn’t have to pay more for something everyone benefits from. It’s time that risk creators did the same.”

Mr Jochinke emphasised that farmers were not the only beneficiaries of Australia’s biosecurity system.

“As the world becomes more interconnected, our geographic advantage as an island is getting eroded. Our biosecurity system is a critical line of defence.

“Farmers aren’t the only winner from strong biosecurity. It’s about protecting Australia’s unique natural environment, as well as a myriad of other industries.

“We know all too well the damage invasive pests can cause when they establish themselves on Australian soil. Farmers and environmentalists are in lockstep on the need to better resource our biosecurity system.

“Every person in Australia benefits from a strong biosecurity system that protects us from pests and diseases.”

Mr Jochinke added the long-awaited funding boost would also improve the efficiency of our ports.

“We hope that with the right resourcing, we can see better screening times and an end to goods waiting on docks for biosecurity clearance. That’s a positive outcome for everyone.

“We’re eagerly awaiting next week’s budget to see if we’ve reached the end of this long wait for funding certainty,” Mr Jochinke concluded.