The Coalition Government’s biosecurity initiatives receive $9.3 million in new operating funding in Budget 2018 over the next four years to improve offshore biosecurity systems and better manage the risks posed by imports.
Further investment in biosecurity is needed as New Zealand’s global trade and tourist numbers increase, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor says in a press statement
When he took up his portfolio six months ago, the Ministry for Primary Industries had several biosecurity responses under way, including Mycoplasma bovis, myrtle rust, Bonamia ostreae and kauri dieback.
Furthermore, ships carrying the brown marmorated stink bug have been turned back.
Besides the new funding, the Government will speed up the review of import health standards.
“Our plan makes sure the exotic pests and diseases that could devastate our economy and wildlife have less chance of making it here in the first place, giving growers and farmers greater certainty about the health of their crops and animals,” Mr O’Connor says.
“This Government’s leadership will improve the resilience of our primary sector. We moved quickly this year to put up $85 million new operating funding in 2017/18 for the frontline response to Mycoplasma bovis in partnership with the primary sector.”
An update will be provided in coming weeks on the next steps of the plan to deal with Mycoplasma bovis, a disease which Mr O’Connor described as a regrettable example of why biosecurity in New Zealand must be properly funded.
Another concern had been the underfunding of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) during a time of increasing workload, he said.
“Budget 2018 addresses this with new operating funding of $38 million over two years for MPI to ensure our primary sector is well supported by Government initiatives as we work together to grow New Zealand’s reputation as the most trusted source of sustainable and premium natural products in the world.”
The Government is already reorganising MPI to house four business units so officials can concentrate on their core responsibilities of biosecurity, food safety, fisheries and forestry.
People around the world increasingly were buying products that align with their values, Mr O’Connor said.
New Zealand has a natural advantage, with a good record of animal welfare, grass-fed stock and brand recognition and the Government is determined to help this continue by properly funding MPI and the critical biosecurity system.