Stop nut imports to protect our crops: LNP

PEANUTS: A farmer inspects his peanut crop.
PEANUTS: A farmer inspects his peanut crop. Eliza Goetze

THE Queensland Liberal National Party has called on the Federal Government to suspend all peanut imports from Argentina pending an immediate review of all associated risks following an outbreak of smut disease.

In a recent media release Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last said peanut smut was widespread across Argentinian growing areas and imports of raw and unshelled nuts posed an unaccepted risk to the state's peanut industry near Kingaroy.

"Pending the outcome, the review could facilitate resumption of imports of lower risk processed peanuts,” Mr Last said

"The last thing Queensland agriculture needs is another exotic disease or pest. If there's any level of risk then imports must stop.”

LNP Deputy Leader and Nanango MP Deb Frecklington said the big danger was that if smut became established there was no way it could be eradicated.

"It is a disease that causes big production losses of up to 20 per cent and more, and once land becomes infected it has to be taken out of production,” Ms Frecklington said.

"We need to keep our peanut industry smut-free.”

After the recent devastation of southern Queensland prawn farms by white spot disease, Panama disease in bananas in North Queensland and the on-going spread of Asian honey bees, it was time to "shut the door” on any new biosecurity risk, Mr Last said.

Ms Frecklington said Kingaroy growers were not impressed with comments from Canberra bureaucrats about "risk-based biosecurity” and the government's ability to respond to "new and emerging international pest and disease threats”.

"Until there can be an iron-clad guarantee from Canberra that there is no risk from bringing smut in from Argentina, then imports should cease.”

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