AUSTRALIA: Banana growers asked for pay voluntary levy


Australian banana growers are being asked to pay a voluntary levy to help reimburse North Queensland producers whose farms have been quarantined after being infected by the incurable Panama Disease Tropical Race IV (TR4).

 

Peak industry body, the Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC), spoke with growers at North Queensland meetings this week about the introduction of a production-based voluntary level of one cent for every kilogram of bananas marketed.

 

The ABGC has also spoken with growers about a plan for the introduction of a minimum standards farm protocol that will set out the requirements for TR4-infected plantations to keep farming.

 

The group’s chairman Doug Phillips said both initiatives were important to the success of the industry’s response to the TR4 outbreak.

 

The disease has now been detected on two banana farms some 180km (112 miles) away from each other.

 

The ABGC convened three banana industry meetings this week, at Mareeba, Tully and Innisfail, attended by a total of 400 people.

 

“We have held meetings in the three major North Queensland growing regions and have spoken with banana growers about a voluntary levy and a protocol that provides a way for properties where TR4 is detected to stay in operation,” Phillips said.

 

“Banana growers at the meetings were generally supportive of both measures. Banana growers are determined to contain TR4 and to ramp up their on-farm biosecurity measures.”

 

Phillips said banana growers were being sent information about the voluntary levy, which would start from April 27.

 

It will be used to reimburse operators of the farms infected by TR4 while they wait for the minimum standards protocol to be available.

 

The level of grower support in paying the voluntary fee and its collection will be monitored to determine how long the fee will need to be in place.

 

The ABGC will also seek funding assistance from Queensland and Federal Governments for growers on farms where TR4 is present as well as for other growers who need to introduce biosecurity measures to their farms.

 

Commenting on plans for introduction of minimum farm standards, Phillips said ABGC representatives were meeting this week with Biosecurity Queensland representatives and scientists to help them formulate a protocol for banana farming with TR4.

 

“The minimum standards will be set by Biosecurity Queensland with advice from the ABGC and we look forward to finalising this important protocol as quickly as possible,” Phillips said.

 

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal




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