Varroa continues to dominate activities. AHBIC hosted a successful webinar on 11th May to inform industry of the response progress. This was well received with nearly 500 participants on line and further 2,500 views of the recording. Big thank you to Bianca Giggins and the DPI public information team for pulling it together.
April was Bee Pest Blitz month, an initiative of AHBIC and PHA to increase awareness of biosecurity and the importance of surveillance. Whilst rushed this year, the Bee Pest Blitz will continue into the future and will expand to include an update of the BeeAware website, videos and more awareness raising activities.
The federal budget was handed down in May with some unwelcomed surprises. In particular, the newly announced biosecurity protection levy. This decision blindsided all ag sectors with no discussion prior to the budget being handed down. The proposed additional levy (0.05 cents/kg honey) will contribute to the pre-border surveillance activities, things like sniffer dogs, border force activities and the other activities carried out by the commonwealth. AHBIC is still chasing details, but it looks like this new levy will be implemented in July 2024.
Low level detections continue to slowly increase the red zones. The first round of surveillance is nearly completed. As a result, it is anticipated the detections should slow as they move into the second round of surveillance.
Baiting appears to be working across the zones with early efficacy trials showing good results. The public perception of baiting has continued to create angst in the community with misinformation gaining traction among the ill-informed.
I travelled to Canberra to attend the CCEPP face to face workshop to work through the response plan. We heard from several presenters that took us on a deep dived on different aspects of the response. The CCEPP and NMG have the response plan V3 before them which if agreed to will carry the response through the 3 years to completion.
AgriFutures Levied Industries Forum
Jon Lockwood and I attended the forum in Sydney which was an opportunity to provide feedback to AgriFutures and also to learn the breadth of work AgriFutures is involved in. Tony Mahar, CEO, National Farmer Federation provided an update to the forum on their strategic focus and issues they are working on. Presenters from a coupe of key AgriFutures projects also presented. It was a valuable 2 days with many take away messages for us.
The Month Ahead
The conference season will see AHBIC representatives at each state conference over the coming months. I will be in attendance Plant Health Australia (PHA) AGM in Sydney with a number of associated meetings around the AGM. I will also be attending a workshop in Dubbo “Agriculture Sector Diesel Transition Forum”.
We also have meetings with the Federal Department of Ag to discuss imported honey, non-prescribed goods export and skills training.