The Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy is in place to enable the funding of the apple and pear industry’s contribution to the cost of eradicating pests and diseases under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD). This article aims to provide an update and overview of what specifically the EPPR levy now funds.
The Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR) levy on 1 October 2017 changed from zero to 0.05 cents per kilogram for fresh domestic and export apple and pears effectively marking the implementation date for EPPR levies to commence being raised. Under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed APAL represents the apple and pear industry on matters of biosecurity.
As a summary, the apple and pear EPPR levy now funds specific incident responses for Torres Strait Fruit Fly, Varroa jacobsoni and Brown Marmorated Stink bug. Each response involves a cost sharing arrangement between other affected plant industries, the Australian government, and state governments.
Since signing of the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed in 2004 Australia’s apple and pear industry had been fortunate to have not been involved in any significant response plans resulting from an exotic pest incursion. More recently starting in 2015 there are now four responses in which the apple and pear industry are involved as affected industry parties.
Torres Strait Fruit Fly Eradication Program
The Torres Strait Fruit Fly Eradication program prevents exotic fruit flies established in Papua New Guinea from crossing Torres Strait islands onto mainland Australia. While many fruit fly species have been recorded the significant target species are Oriental Fruit Fly Bactrocera dorsalis, New Guinea Fruit Fly Bactrocera trivialis, and Melon Fruit Fly Zeugodacus cucurbitae.
In 1995 in Cairns a major eradication of Oriental Fruit Fly (B.dorsalis) occurred costing $34 million however it cost an additional $100 million when taking into account the wider ramifications on horticultural industries. At the time this pest was known as Papaya Fruit Fly where it was actually Oriental Fruit Fly because it was later reported in 2012 that B.dorsalis, B.papayae and B.philippinensis for taxonomy purposes were actually all the same species and therefore all B.dorsalis.
This Torres Strait program was originally under a government funded containment strategy founded in 1996 however in 2015 became a response plan under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD). Given the nature of the response of flies continually being driven by northerly winds southward from Papua New Guinea to potentially the mainland this is likely to be an ongoing commitment where new response plans will be required to maintain this effort.
The impact of exotic fruit flies establishing on mainland Australia would be severe particularly for domestic and international trade with the impact estimated to be $2.1 Billion.
For the Torres Strait Fruit Fly reponse plan APAL’s contribution to this is $27,000 per year.
Varroa jacobsoni in Townsville
Varroa mites are small external parasites of honey bees which can be highly destructive leading to significant reductions in honey bee populations. The apple and pear industry relies on European Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) for pollination of the crop each year so effectively any threat to honeybees is a threat to our industry which should be dealt with.
At the Port of Townsville in June 2016 a nest of Asian Honey Bees (Apis cerana) infested with Varroa jacobsoni were detected where control measures were activated and a response plan was approved. The response plan revealed numerous Asian Honey Bee sites however just two of these sites contained Asian Honey Bee infested with Varroa jacobsoni. In mid-2017 the response moved to a proof of freedom phase which is likely to remain active until 2019.
For the Response Plan for the Eradication of Varroa jacobsoni in Queensland APAL’s cost sharing contribution to the response is $411,580.
Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
More recently since only November 2017 there are now three detections of Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Halymorpha halys) which have all occurred while unpacking goods recently imported from Italy. Two of these are Western Sydney locations Glendenning and Horsley Park and more recently in February 2018 a third detection has occurred in the southern Perth location of Jandakot in Western Australia.
At both NSW sites which were both contained and treated on the premises there have been no further BMSB found during the trapping and surveillance activities which are now in place. For the Jandakot site a large number of BMSB were found where also one single live BMSB was found outside the vicinity of the warehouse resulting in more extensive surveillance and trapping activities.
BMSB feeds on well over 100 plant hosts and the significance of this pest on apple and pears is well documented. It is highly invasive and with few predators numbers can build up over short time frames which is evidenced through an outbreak in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States resulting in $37 million in losses to apples alone.
For these BMSB Response Plans collectively APAL’s indicative cost sharing contribution is $30,000.
Currently overall the apple and pear industry’s current response commitments will require the EPPR levy at it’s current rate to go for a period of approximately five years which is as it was originally intended. At five years should no more responses occur APAL should be in a position to reset the levy back to zero.