Levy to help eradicate pest weed
A extra one dollar levy on citrus growers came into effect on January 1, but it is a cost South West growers are happy to pay.
The Emergency Plant Pest Response will retrospectively pay for the responses taken in the State’s north to keep WA free from citrus canker.
The $1.05 per tonne or 2.1¢ per 20kg box will take effect in growers’ quarterly return, due on April 28.
It means the total levy will rise from $4.25 to $5.30 per tonne for oranges in bulk; and from $3.50 to $4.55 per tonne for other citrus in bulk.
Harvey citrus grower and owner of Yambellup Estate Richard Eckersley said it was a small price to pay.
“Yeah it is an extra cost, but it’s a small one and one we are willing to pay,” Mr Eckersley said.
“We want to eradicate these exotic threats as quickly as possible.”
The Category 2 plant pest was first detected in May 2018 at two retail businesses in Kununurra and Wyndham, the infected plants originating from the Northern Territory.
State Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan declared WA free of citrus canker in November, more than 18 months after the initial detection.
A swift response from State and Federal government, as well as national citrus industry bodies, meant the threat never spread far enough south to affect WA’s $30 million citrus industry.
Mr Eckersley praised the response from government and industry bodies.
“I am really happy with the way we were continually informed by all stakeholders involved,” he said, particularly praising WA Citrus industry manager Bronwyn Walsh.
“We were very fortunate to have someone on the ground from our industry to follow up throughout the whole process,” Mr Eckersley said.
According to the Federal Agricultural Department, the response is currently tracking on budget at about $18.7 million, with State and Federal governments working closely with industry to calculate the levy and ensure correct guidelines were followed.
The last outbreak of citrus canker occurred in Emerald, Queensland, in 2004 and was declared eradicated in January 2009. Since 2013 there have been 27 nationally eradication programs in response to plant, animal and environmental threats.
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