Early in February 2017, industry received news that the Tomato-potato psyllid (TPP) had been found in Australia. More than any other, this incursion highlighted a severe capacity crisis within industry and government. Many industry personnel in particular, were thrown into biosecurity roles that had for many years been the sole province of government. Effective incursion response requires an understanding of response mechanisms and solid networks with government and researchers. At the time of this incursion, industry resources and capabilities became stretched to the limit. It was under these circumstances that the importance of effective knowledge brokering was demonstrated.
In addition, this recent incursion and previous incursions (such as CGMMV) highlighted the importance of tapping into international expertise, use of acquired knowledge, and formation of international collaborative relationships. Such relationships may be researcher to researcher, industry to researcher, industry to industry, government to industry etc.. The list goes on.
In a context where biosecurity funding is under threat within state governments, and costs of production for industry are increasing, we are facing both a 'brain drain' and a capacity crisis. How do we become smarter and more effective in our approaches to incursion response and management of established pests? How can we tap into citizen science and incite cultural change amongst communities, government and industry? How can we avoid wheel reinvention?
These are the questions I will seek to answer during a study tour to the USA in July 2017. With funding from the Rural Industries and Regional Development Corporation (RIRDC) and support from AUSVEG, I will investigate the following topics: Industry/ government relationships in biosecurity; Citizen science – its role in biosecurity; Pest management in peri-urban production regions; Surveillance initiatives - what works, what doesn't?; The processes, roles and funding during pests incursions; Pest impacts on production and trade; Farm biosecurity best practice schemes.