SA needs food safety treatment plant to grow export markets

SA needs food safety treatment plant to grow export markets

Commonwealth investment in a food safety treatment facility close to Adelaide will be critical for South Australian growers wanting to expand into new export markets, according to the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

The Centre Alliance spokesperson for agriculture raised the issue in Question Time today, asking the Agriculture Minister David Littleproud what the Government planned to do to assist SA farmers to meet biosecurity standards in emerging export markets.

“To meet biosecurity requirements in international markets, SA growers must freight to irradiation treatment facilities interstate,” Rebekha said.

“The added time and cost of interstate freight puts SA at a distinct disadvantage. We need our own facility.

“With the number of fruit fly outbreaks in South Australia increasing, access to a local facility will be critical to our industry’s ability to expand into new export markets.”

In response, the Minister said the Commonwealth would continue to work with the State Government on measures to improve biosecurity.

A food treatment irradiation facility uses ionising radiation to destroy bacteria that spoil food and cause illness. Irradiation can treat insect infestation, microbiological contamination and extend the shelf-life of food. It also ensures that food products are suitable for international trade by meeting rigid import standards of quality.

Centre Alliance is seeking a $3.2 million commitment from the Government towards a proposed irradiation facility near Adelaide. The facility is expected to cost $15 million.

“South Australia acts as a ‘buffer’ state for q-fly from the east, and for med-fly from the west and both species cause significant damage to Australian horticultural production,” Rebekha said.

“Should current efforts to curtail the spread of these fruit fly species in South Australia and elsewhere be unsuccessful, the likely economic and social cost for our horticultural regions and impact upon our horticultural exports would be calamitous. In South Australia alone the horticulture industry is worth $1 billion annually.

“Access to appropriate and reasonably priced endpoint treatment facilities in South Australia is a critical element of the industry’s capacity to contribute to the South Australian economic growth agenda and export targets.

“The current lack of such a facility in our state is seriously hampering the ability of growers from exporting their produce, especially into Asia.

“I am advised that a feasibility study was conducted into establishing an irradiation site in South Australia and that study found such facility is both commercially viable on a long term basis and would provide significant benefits to the South Australian economy.

"We need Commonwealth investment in this project but the State Government also needs to contribute and work alongside industry to make this facility a reality."