NZ farmers to carry out border patrols on farms in pest plant and disease battle
Farmers will soon bring the border patrolling of pests and diseases to their own farms, says Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy.
He said velvet leaf outbreaks and farmer attempts to prevent its spread had brought home the realisation that farmers would eventually carry out more stringent inspections of vehicles and goods entering their properties.
Guy said farmers would in the future likely ask "probing questions" of contractors coming on their farms and be more aware of stock movements.
"I think contractors are up for those discussions as well," said Guy at Fieldays at Waikato's Mystery Creek. "While it may be frustrating for them to clean up their gear I think everyone is bit more mindful of the importance of biosecurity. We will be in constant [risk] of a potential disease or pests coming to New Zealand and we will do what we can to strengthen the border - that's why it is my number one priority."
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He said the appearance of myrtle rust had raised awareness of biosecurity with 700,000 people seeking information on the MPI website.
"Ultimately it comes down to New Zealanders and farmers to do more inside the farmgate so we have to raise awareness, ask those probing questions of contractors, make sure the gear is clean and ... check out that last bale on the feed out wagon or baler that's coming on the farm to see where it has come from."
By Thursday there were 46 known properties infected with myrtle rust - four in Northland, two in Waikato, 39 in Taranaki and a new find this week in Bay of Plenty.
Guy said a good budget had been set this year for biosecurity at $18 million and this bumped funding up to about $250m.
"That's more people on the frontline, more dogs, more X-rays and actually reviewing the import health standards, trying to keep more bugs and diseases offshore. There is also a part of that about educating New Zealanders. Ultimately we want to have a biosecurity team of 4.7 million New Zealanders "
Guy said the mood of farmers at Fieldays had been "upbeat" after a dairy downturn for a couple of years, but they probably had one hand in their pocket and were mindful they had to pay down some debt and catch up on farm maintenance.
Horticulture was having a big presence at Fieldays and the rural economy was in a strong position with beef, lamb and forestry in positive shape, albeit wool was a bit low, he said.