ONE OF Australia's peak grain grower bodies, Grain Producers Australia, has welcomed the federal government's announcement of $371 million to combat biosecurity threats.
GPA deputy chair Barry Large said the investment was a positive step towards modernising a biosecurity sector under more pressure than ever before.
He identified some key areas of benefit to the grains industry.
"In particular, GPA welcomes $34.6 million to go towards new research to more clearly identify biosecurity risks and develop improved surveillance and inspection tools," Mr Large said.
"We also welcome the announcement of $96.8 million for the offshore treatment provider assurance program, and data and technology advancements to rapidly identify containers for intervention and $25.5 million for modern technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of pest and disease identification at the border."
Mr Large said GPA had been part of the steering group which developed the National Biosecurity Statement and said the government's announcement of $3.9 million to increase community and business biosecurity awareness was a great step towards increasing broader community awareness, identified as critical within that statement."
"By investing in better front line biosecurity measure, the Australian Government is demonstrating it not only understands the importance of protecting Australian agriculture from devastating pest and disease incursions, but also the need to invest proactively, in protecting our economy and communities," he said.
"As the Coronavirus outbreak has clearly demonstrated, small, hidden threats can sneak through our borders undetected and deliver a massive hit to the national economy, stopping businesses and altering lives, virtually overnight.
Mr Large said today's package comes on the back of Minister Littleproud's recent announcement of additional sea container measures to manage the risks of Khapra beetle incursion into Australia.
"As outlined by the Federal Agriculture Department if Khapra beetle makes it past the 60,000kms of Australian border and enters Australia, an outbreak could cost $15.5 billion over 20 years from reduction in production, control costs and loss of export market access," he said.
"It is estimated around 100 million tonnes of imported goods arrive in Australia via containers and 399 high priority pests have been identified by Plant Health Australia - that's why we need to continue investing in modern tools and technologies to build safer stronger borders, to better protect rural economies."