PinG takes on biosecurity

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A series of biosecurity workshops will be rolled out across grain-producing regions by the not-for-profit training network Partners in Grain (PinG). The workshops aim to increase awareness of farm biosecurity and promote an active attitude towards securing farms against the risks of new pests.

The workshops will help people assess high-risk pathways into the farm and risky activities on-farm and how to develop a farm biosecurity plan. Biosecurity links with existing farm practices, effective record-keeping and market compliance will also be discussed.

Workshop facilitator and grains biosecurity officer for South Australia, Judy Bellati, says she believes these PinG biosecurity workshops are the first initiative of this kind in Australia.

“The program, by its very nature, is demand-driven. It will help the broadacre farming community recognise the benefits of good biosecurity practice to their farming enterprises, as well as for natural resource management at regional, state and national scales,” Ms Bellati says.

The national workshops are an extension of a series of pilot workshops developed by PinG SA, in conjunction with the national Grains Farm Biosecurity Program as part of an SA Government Community Natural Resources Management Grant.

National PinG coordinator Kim Blenkiron says the pilot workshops allowed participants to collaborate and share ideas on biosecurity practices with other growers. “Participants not only learned from the expert speakers but also from each other, sharing what they currently implement on their own properties. The collaborative learning environment provides real value to all participants, especially those just starting out who have limited knowledge of what farm biosecurity really means.”

The workshops focused on practical applications. Measures and actions discussed by participants included assessing, listing and mapping declared weeds on a property, implementing hygiene protocols for livestock movement and visitors, certification of seed, and discussing biosecurity expectations with farm employees and contractors.

Ms Blenkiron says all participants in the pilot workshops left with at least the beginnings of a biosecurity action plan for their enterprise, or priorities for improving existing practices to reduce biosecurity risks. They also took home at least one farm biosecurity gate sign to erect on a primary entrance to their properties.

Milang, SA, grain grower Tracy Cross says the workshop she attended reinforced how important it is to be proactive about biosecurity. “Since the workshop we have put a biosecurity sign on our front gate and request that all visitors notify us before entering the farm production zone.”

Ms Bellati emphasises that the workshops get the process of biosecurity planning started, and that each plan will develop over time. “A biosecurity plan identifies risks or risk pathways and outlines their management. It is essentially a living document, because it will require reviews and updates. And because it outlines the efforts and capacity to manage on-farm risks it can also be supporting documentation for declarations, quality assurance systems and other compliance requirements.”

More information:

Kim Blenkiron
0427 592 243
kim.blenkiron@bigpond.com

Judy Bellati
08 8207 7843
judy.bellati@sa.gov.au

For more information on the program or if you are interested in attending or hosting a farm biosecurity workshop, contact your regional PinG coordinator or your state grains biosecurity officer.

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GRDC Project Code PIG00008