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Black Grass still a threat

Black Grass still a threat

Federated Farmers urges farmers to remain vigilant in checking for black-grass this season, as it still remains a possible threat to the Canterbury economy.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) response team found no sign of black-grass last season, but we are not out of the woods yet as we are advised that the second year is the highest risk for germination and establishment” says David Clark, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed mid-Canterbury Chair.

“We are moving into the second year of a multi-year response to the spillage of a shipment of contaminated black-grass seed, travelling between Ashburton and Methven in mid-Canterbury, in July last year.

“Black-grass is an invasive plant that affects winter grains in Europe and the United Kingdom, and is proving to be one of the toughest weeds to control on European and United Kingdom cropping farms.

“Our arable farmers are world leaders and in mid-Canterbury they are at the centre of ensuring this threat doesn’t become a reality. It is paramount we maintain a biosecurity system that ensures harmful pests and diseases are kept out of New Zealand.

“It is estimated that the direct sales from arable production were $868 million in 2011, in a report commissioned by the Arable Foods Industry Council in 2012. The indirect impact from suppliers to arable producers brought arable sales up to $2.2 billion, with a total contribution to GDP at approximately $959 million.

“A biosecurity breach of any magnitude could seriously impede our ability to remain a productive part of the New Zealand economy, and is why MPI and industry partners have been working together to mitigate this biosecurity risk.

“It is encouraging that the range of surveillance and control options didn’t find any black-grass last season, and Federated Farmers continues to support MPI and farmers in their response.

“Federated Farmers urges the public and farmers to remain alert to any signs of black-grass along the spillage route and report their concerns to MPI’s pest and disease hotline 0800 80 99 66,” concluded Mr Clark.


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