Farmers welcome review of biosecurity rules

VEGETABLE and potato growers have welcomed a re-examination of Australia's rules for assessing the biosecurity risks of imported agricultural commodities.

The import risk analysis process, which examines if importing new foods to Australia could risk breakouts of pests and diseases, will be open for public comment for the next two months.

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said it was a chance to "discuss" the IRA process, with a view to ensuring the best possible protections are in place against new diseases making their way into Australia's food industry.

The investigations are part of an election commitment, and response to three Senate committee inquiries in recent months on imports of Fijian ginger, Malaysian pineapples and New Zealand potatoes.

Peak vegetable growers' industry group, AUSVEG, welcomed the commitment, hoping it would result in better scientific rigour in the assessments, and justify the decisions made.

AUSVEG government relations manager Andrew White said the industry had been raising concerns about the existing IRA process "for some time".

The government will release a discussion paper on any potential changes to be made, after the two-month consultation period.