Biosecurity incursions are one of Queensland agriculture's greatest business risks with exotic and invasive pests and diseases having a potentially crippling impact on plant and animal production systems across the state. While Australia's island status protects the country from exotic pests and diseases to a certain extent, the movement of people and goods around the globe reduces this advantage. As Australia's frontline biosecurity state, Queensland suffers more than most including from an infestation of fire ants.
Fire ants were first detected in Brisbane in 2001, but it is thought that they may have arrived up to 20 years earlier. How they entered is not known but we do know they will have major social, environmental and economic impacts if left untreated. As spring begins, so too does this year's fire ant treatment season. With the National Fire Ant Eradication Program focusing on ridding already treated areas in the Lockyer Valley, Somerset, Scenic Rim, Ipswich and surrounds of any remaining fire ants and to stop them from spreading outside south east Queensland.
Fire ants are not the only biosecurity threat farmers are facing, with the 2021-22 brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) season also under way. The bug is known to attack over 300 plants and crops including corn, soybean, apples, grapes and peaches, and stronger biosecurity measures are now in place to manage the risks associated with this significant cargo pest.
All Queenslanders have a general biosecurity obligation to manage biosecurity risks and threats. The agriculture sector continues to play its part by limiting the impact of pests and diseases, and fulfilling its prevention and management obligations to ensure Queensland's economy, environment, health and way of life is not adversely impacted. The Queensland government's new 'Farm Check-In' app empowers farmers and the community to share this responsibility. Farmers are encouraged to download the app, install signs at their gate for visitors to check in and incorporate it into their biosecurity management plans. If you see or suspect a biosecurity pest or disease, you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland at https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/biosecurity or call 13 25 23.