Australia has sound reasons for continuing to bar apple imports from New Zealand and China, writes Patrick J. Byrne.
There have already been suggestions that, should the drought lead to higher food prices, Australia should weaken its quarantine rules to allow imports of products currently excluded from Australia.
Although recent rains will break the drought for many dry-land farmers, irrigation farmers in the Murray-Darling Basin will have a tense wait until about September before they know if there has been enough rain and snow to provide enough water for irrigation.
In anticipation of possible higher food price, a recent editorial in The Australian argued that there are no quarantine reasons to prohibit apple imports from New Zealand and China.
It said that NZ had become the world’s second-largest apple exporter “without sowing a trail of pestilence among the nations that take its produce”.
NZ fire blight
In fact, NZ only sells apples to countries that have fire blight or that don’t grow apples.
Meanwhile, only weeks ago, Taiwan suspended its imports of NZ apples because of the discovery of coddling moth in a NZ shipment.
Further, NZ has a native “wheat bug” which damages wheat crops. It has recently entered Belgium and Holland, believed to have been transmitted either on contaminated apples or packaging.
China’s official stance is that they have no fire blight, but this is in dispute by other countries.
Last year, the US ceased importing Chinese pears because of exotic disease concerns. Australia is free of a number of other Chinese exotic pests such as a strain of the fungal disease, black spot.
– Patrick J. Byrne