Peanuts pose risk to Bur­nett grow­ers

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Michael Nolan michael.nolan@south­bur­nett­times.com.au

DEPUTY Op­po­si­tion Leader and mem­ber for Nanango Deb Freck­ling­ton is call­ing on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to sus­pend all peanut im­ports from Ar­gentina pend­ing a re­view of all as­so­ci­ated risks fol­low­ing an out­break of smut disease.

Mrs Freck­ling­ton said peanut smut was wide­spread across Ar­gen­tinian grow­ing ar­eas.

“The South Bur­nett is a ma­jor peanut-grow­ing re­gion and local grow­ers ap­proached me about their very real con­cerns,” she said.

“The big dan­ger is that if smut be­came es­tab­lished here, there is no way it could be erad­i­cated.

“It is a disease that causes big pro­duc­tion losses of up to 20% and more and once land be­comes in­fected it has to be taken out of pro­duc­tion.

“We need to keep our peanut in­dus­try smut-free.”

Mrs Freck­ling­ton said Kingaroy grow­ers were not im­pressed with com­ments from Can­berra bu­reau­crats about “risk-based biose­cu­rity” and the gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to re­spond to “new and emerg­ing in­ter­na­tional pest and disease threats”.

“Un­til there can be an iron-clad guar­an­tee from Can­berra that there is no risk from bring­ing smut in from Ar­gentina, then im­ports should cease,” Mrs Freck­ling­ton said.

Shadow Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Dale Last agreed that im­ports of raw and un­shelled nuts posed an un­ac­cept­able risk to the state’s peanut in­dus­try near Kingaroy.

“Pend­ing the out­come the re­view could fa­cil­i­tate re­sump­tion of im­ports of lower-risk pro­cessed peanuts,” Mr Last said

“The last thing Queens­land agri­cul­ture needs is an­other ex­otic disease or pest. If there’s any level of risk then im­ports must stop.”

Mr Last said it was time to halt im­ports given the re­cent dev­as­ta­tion of south­ern Queens­land prawn farms by white spot disease and Panama disease in ba­nanas in North Queens­land.

PHOTO: FILE

GROW­ING PROB­LEM: Deputy Op­pos­tion Leader Deb Freck­ling­ton is call­ing for a ban on Ar­gen­tinian peanuts to re­duce smut disease risk.

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