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Bee Parasite Shows Need For Better Biosecurity

Federated Farmers Vice President Tom Lambie said today that the breach of New Zealand's biosecurity that allowed the Varroa Mite to enter the country showed the need for much more effective biosecurity controls.

"This outbreak again highlights the importance of stringent biosecurity measures. Border biosecurity is a 'public good' activity, and the vital role of the Government maintaining biosecurity standards," commented Mr Lambie.

"Unfortunately, a focus on car importation is diverting public attention from the higher risk pathways of shipping containers, mail and airline passengers. Every car is inspected, whereas only 23% of containers are examined."

The federation understands that hundreds of undeclared risk items are removed from passengers at airports every week.

The Biosecurity Act has made provision for instant fines. Federated Farmers is requesting the Government to bring this part of the Act into force as a matter of urgency.

Federated Farmers, together with the National Beekeepers' Association, today met the Biosecurity Minister, Hon Marion Hobbs, and received assurances that the Government will fund the emergency response up to the point of identifying the extent of the outbreak and until the decision can be made on eradication or containment.

Federated Farmers has also asked the Government to fund a strategic education programme. "The New Zealand travelling public and overseas tourists just do not understand the impact their actions can have on New Zealand's wider economy," commented Mr Lambie.

"The Minister said she personally will also draw upon her teaching background to look at the wider education needs."

"The federations is heartened that the Minister of Biosecurity has demonstrated her understanding of the size and impact of this particular biosecurity breakdown."

President Alistair Polson, Mr Lambie and Chief Executive Tony St. Clair are travelling to Auckland tomorrow to inspect the entire biosecurity system - port, airport, mail centre, sniffer dog unit, MAF border agency and the temporary Outbreak Centre.

ends

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