Melons Australia represents the biosecurity interests of melon producers and the industry. They are members of Plant Health Australia (PHA) and signatories to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed. Their responsibilities include:
- biosecurity planning and implementation at the national and farm levels
- liaising with federal and state governments on trade issues
- funding and supporting biosecurity initiatives
- participating in national committees and response efforts in an emergency.
The Australian melon industry commenced research and development and biosecurity levies in January 2016.
Melons Australia, in conjunction with Plant Health Australia administer the Melon Plant Health Levy. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlines the relationship between the two organisations and how the levy is invested. Biosecurity is a significant commitment by the Australian melon industry to support the development and retention of critical biosecurity capacity in the industry.
The intent of the MoU is to:
- ensure efficiencies in the provision of the Program on behalf of Industry
- build and maintain plant biosecurity capability and capacity
- streamline the contracting process and reduce transaction costs
- ensure the respective parties are responsive and flexible in responding to Industry biosecurity needs
- underpin an improved relationship with growers and Industry participants.
Objectives of the Program are to:
- ensure that the Industry is prepared for its high priority exotic pests across key areas such as awareness, capacity and capability, surveillance, diagnostics, contingency, response, regulation and RD&E
- raise awareness of priority exotic pest threats to the Industry among growers and throughout the supply chain
- increase the use and awareness of on-farm biosecurity practices by Industry participants
- integrate on-farm biosecurity measures with quality assurance and best management practice programs
- support biosecurity initiatives such as surveillance for Torres Strait Fruit Fly and Varroa Mite
- develop a small contingency fund to buffer against any share of future Emergency Responses.
Melons are covered by version 2.0 of the biosecurity plan for the melon industry which was released in May 2020.
The PHA and EPPR levies are collected by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE) and forwarded onto Plant Health Australia (PHA) for management and administration. Plant Health Australia is the national coordinator for the government-industry partnership for plant biosecurity in Australia.
PHA provides expert technical advice on biosecurity issues, assistance in the event of an incursion, development of biosecurity plans and strategies, as well as independent advice on biosecurity investment.
The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD)
The EPPRD is a legally binding agreement between PHA, the Australian Government, all state and territory governments and national plant industry body signatories and it includes the management and funding of responses to Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) incidents, such as Melon fly if it were to enter Australia.
The EPPRD also formalises the role of plant industries’ participation in decision making as well as their contribution towards the costs related to EPP responses. The AMA acts on the melon industry’s behalf at a national level.
The EPPR biosecurity levy (currently set at 0.0c/kg) enables the industry to temporarily increase the biosecurity levy to raise funds in the event of an exotic pest outbreak.
Melon Biosecurity Plan
To ensure its future viability and sustainability, it is important that the Australian melon industry, represented by Australian Melon Association Inc. as the peak industry body, minimises the risks posed by exotic pests and responds effectively to plant pest threats. This plan is a framework to coordinate biosecurity activities and investment for Australia’s melon industry. It provides a mechanism for industry, governments and stakeholders to better prepare for and respond to, incursions of pests that could have significant impacts on the melon industry. It identifies and prioritises exotic plant pests (not currently present in Australia) and established pests of biosecurity concern and focuses on future biosecurity challenges.
The Biosecurity Plan for the Melon Industry was developed by the Australian Melon Association Inc. in consultation with Plant Health Australia and the Technical Expert Group, which consisted of plant health and biosecurity experts and industry representatives.
The development of Threat Summary Tables, constituting a list of 68 exotic plant pests and the potential biosecurity threat that they represent to the Australian melon industry was key to the industry biosecurity planning process. Each pest on the list was given an overall risk rating based on four criteria; entry, establishment, spread potential, and economic impact. In this biosecurity plan, established pests of biosecurity significance for the melon industry were also identified as good biosecurity practice is beneficial for the ongoing management and surveillance for these pests.
The Biosecurity Plan for the Melon Industry also details current mitigation and surveillance activities being undertaken and identifies contingency plans, fact sheets and diagnostic protocols that have been developed for pests relevant to the melon industry.
For a copy of Biosecurity Plan for the Melon Industry – version 2 (May 2020), please contact the Melons Australia Executive Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Melon Biosecurity Incident Standard Operating Procedures (BISOP)
Australian Melon Association’s BISOP documents how the organisation delivers on its roles and responsibilities as a Party to the EPPRD, with specific emphasis on undertaking its role in a response to an incident. This document provides guidance to staff and other representatives of AMA, documents corporate knowledge and organisational procedures relevant to incidents responded to under the EPPRD.
Incident means the occurrence of a confirmed or reasonably held suspicion of an EPP or of an uncategorised Plant Pest which is reasonably believed to be an EPP (not including a Plant Pest investigation where the provisional finding or diagnosis is that the Plant Pest is established).
This BISOP is specific to the direct responsibilities of the AMA during a response to a suspect of known EPP notification where they are identified as a potentially Affected Party under the EPPRD.
On-farm Biosecurity Plan
Melon growers are reminded that biosecurity is vitally important to all farm businesses. Although it is now 6 years since Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus was found in the Northern Territory, strong on-farm biosecurity is needed to prevent this virus from reaching your farm.
The AMA continues to support the current arrangements for seed testing for CGMMV, Melon necrotic spot virus (MNSV),Kyuri green mottle mosaic virus (KGMMV) and Zucchini green mottle mosaic virus (ZGMMV)at the Australian border. This is the highest level in the world but has been shown to protect the Australian melon industry since it commenced in late 2014.
Apart from only using tested seed, other on-farm biosecurity measures are vitally important. Control of farm access helps manage movement of biosecurity issues onto farms. A Farm Gate Biosecurity Sign template is available to display at farm gates to ensure visitors are fully aware of a property’s on-farm biosecurity requirements.
Additionally, a Farm Biosecurity Planner for the Melon Industry is available to help ensure all melon farms are using as many on-farm biosecurity measures as practical to maintain a high level of farm biosecurity.
Biosecurity Champions for the Australian Melon Industry
One of the most often cited problems that melon growers face, regarding maintaining farm biosecurity, is holiday makers who enter farms without permission to look at crops or harvest fruit. Melon farms are often in remote areas but near areas of natural beauty that attract the travelling caravan holiday makers. The melon industry has developed internet-based messages for this group to inform them of the biosecurity issues that growers face and encourage good practices by travelling holiday makers to help maintain high on-farm biosecurity.
The following three YouTube videos can be used to help increase awareness of melon on-farm biosecurity by travelling holidaymakers in Northern Australia.