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Disease threatens Tasmanian blueberry industry

Growers say Tasmania’s $30 million blueberry industry is at risk from a disease but the State Government defends its strategy for blueberry rust as based on science.

Tasmania’s 80 registered blueberry growers are urging eradication rather than containment of the fungal disease but Biosecurity Tasmania says that is not realistic.

The state adopted a policy of eradication when a first incursion hit smaller farms in 2014 with plants ripped out and the state declared free of the disease.

Major berry grower Costa self-reported blueberry rust on its Nine Mile farm in the North-West in August 2016. This time the state’s policy is to contain the incursion.

Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the strategy was based on science and managing industry impact.

Biosecurity Tasmania general manager Lloyd Klumpp said the department had listened to growers who asked for a scientific assessment to identify if any treatments were available that might enable eradication of the disease.

“That assessment has confirmed that regulated containment is our most effective strategy and we are committed to continuing to implement that to protect our blueberry industry and enable ongoing market access,” he said. “We have listened to and totally understand the concerns of growers.”

Mr Klumpp said small grants were available to assist growers in farm hygiene.

The Primary Industry Biosecurity Action Alliance, Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association and the Australian Blueberry Growers Association have urged eradication.

Source: weeklytimesnow.com.au

Publication date: 8/11/2017


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