Far North Queensland citrus growers have condemned a federal government plan to import limes from Mexico. They warn it could destroy the local industry and risk bringing in a number of biosecurity hazards.
Mexico is the biggest lime producer in the world, with more than 1.1 million tonnes of lime exported annually. According to Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, there would be no biosecurity risk to Australian farmers. "To provide surety and protection for all of Australia, the federal government invested $400.1 million in our biosecurity system in the budget. That's on top of the $888.2 million last year. Our farmers expect access to our trading partners' markets and it is only right that is reciprocated."
Mutchilba citrus farmer Karen Muccignat from Muccignat Farming said the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of family farms on the Atherton Tablelands were at risk if the imports were allowed in.
"Like us, they also reside in a tropical climate like our own, so the pests and disease risks are massive," Miss Muccignat told northqueenslandregister.com.au.
Federal member for Kennedy Bob Katter vehemently opposed the Minister for Agriculture and the government's free market ideology earlier this week. Katter said the idea of free trade was continuing to destroy Australian primary and secondary producers.
"The growers up here have every right to be angry," Katter said. "Citrus canker did untold damage to the industry here in Mareeba, as did papaya fruit fly, and that black sigatoka, panama disease and white spot disease continue to do to other industries. The government are advocating that people in the cities get cheaper food at the expense of the farmers who go out of existence because they can't compete with these disastrous free trade ideologies."