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Breakthrough to strengthen Australian citrus exports

In a major boost for Australia’s $190 million citrus export industry, the European Union (EU) has recognised mainland Australia as free from citrus canker.

The decision means citrus exported from Australia to the EU no longer requires costly disinfectant treatment for the disease.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Tony Burke, said any boost to agricultural exports would help to strengthen regional economies.

“The Rudd Government will continue working to expand Australia’s agricultural export industries which underpin regional jobs and economic growth,” Mr Burke said.

“The citrus industry is an important part of many regional economies, including in the Riverland in South Australia, Murray Valley in NSW and Victoria, the Riverina in NSW and the Central Burnett region in Queensland.

“This news will be particularly welcome at this time, as growers prepare for the new citrus exporting season.

“We saw the devastating impact of citrus canker on the Queensland industry in 2004 and the industry has worked hard with the Australian Government to eradicate the disease.

“Industry has also completed a national survey to help verify our citrus canker-free status.”

The EU Standing Committee reinstated its prior recognition of Queensland as free from the disease, and added the Northern Territory and Western Australia to the list of approved areas.

NSW, Victoria and South Australia were already recognised by the EU as disease-free areas.

Citrus Australia Ltd CEO Judith Damiani said it was welcome news for the industry to be finally recognised globally as canker free.

“In 2009 the UAE was our 5th largest export destination valued at $11.4 million. In the same twelve months Australian citrus exports to the EU were valued at just over $4 million,” Ms Damiani said.

“More importantly we can reduce unnecessary costs to become even more internationally competitive.”

The Australian Government provided the results of the eradication program and the national survey to the EU and the UAE to demonstrate that Australia is free from the pathogen that causes citrus canker.

Australia has also been able to demonstrate effective quarantine measures for ensuring an ongoing pest-free status.

by S. C.
22 march 2010, World News > Oceania

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