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Suspected Panama disease hits one of AU's largest banana growers

The location where the suspected case of the devastating soil-borne Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4) was found in Australia made the situation even more severe for the industry, starting at one of Australia's largest banana growing operations.

Mackays Bananas, run by Cameron Mackay and his brother Stephen and cousins Barrie and Gavin is the legacy of a pioneering banana farming family which first planted bananas in Tully 100 years ago.

Mackays is regarded as an industry leader as Cameron himself was a president of the Australian Banana Growers' Council for many years and his family's multi-million dollar, vertically-integrated banana operation has set a benchmark for biosecurity protocols, innovation and on-farm practices.

So far, the family has not commented publicly on the positive test, but Biosecurity Queensland said the farm would continue to send fruit to market under strict biosecurity protocols.

Innisfail banana farmer Jade Buchanan said it was a wake-up call about the continuing threat of the disease to their livelihoods, but for now everyone's thoughts were with the Mackay family.

"We're thinking about them every day. Our industry's very, very close. Everyone's doing what they can to support the family and I think we'll all get through this," Ms Buchanan said.

"They're progressive, they're at the forefront of their game, they won't take this lightly and they'll do everything in their power to control the spread of something that is really quite devastating for an industry that is so important for our country."

Read more at abc.net.au

Publication date: 7/14/2017


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