Firm on berry dis­ease

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

CALLS for erad­i­cat­ing a fun­gal dis­ease that puts the state’s $30 mil­lion blue­berry in­dus­try at risk are grow­ing louder.

Blue­berry grow­ers who met on Tues­day at Ross say they are set on urg­ing erad­i­ca­tion of blue­berry rust.

The han­dling of the dis­ease in out­breaks since 2014 will be looked at in an Up­per House in­quiry. The state’s strat­egy changed from the ini­tial pol­icy of erad­i­ca­tion to one of con­tain­ment af­ter the dis­ease hit a ma­jor pro­ducer last year.

Cer­ti­fied or­ganic grower Tr­ish Macfar­lane said grow­ers still be­lieved erad­i­ca­tion of blue­berry rust could be achieved.

“It’s a clear mes­sage, we are not veer­ing from our course of ac­tion call­ing for erad­i­ca­tion. We had a big turnout and had many oth­ers who couldn’t at­tend made con­tact to give their sup­port,” Ms Macfar­lane said.

“Grow­ers are com­ing out of the wood­work to ex­press their con­cerns.

“It’s not go­ing to be a quick fix, it’s an up­hill bat­tle and it will be one step at a time, but the sci­ence is there to erad­i­cate blue­berry rust.”

The state’s dis­ease-free sta­tus for blue­berry ex­ports has been sus­pended be­cause of the out­breaks.

Ms Macfar­lane said other in­dus­try bod­ies were also join­ing the con­ver­sa­tion.

In July peak farm­ing body Tas­ma­nian Farm­ers and Gra­ziers As­so­ci­a­tion joined the Pri­mary In­dus­try Biose­cu­rity Ac­tion Al­liance and the Aus­tralian Blue­berry Grow­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in call­ing for erad­i­ca­tion and for an in­quiry into the han­dling of the in­cur­sions.

Sub­mis­sions to the in­quiry close on Oc­to­ber 13.

For more de­tails about the in­quiry visit www.par­lia­ment.

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