Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Farmer in the dark over role in fruit fly prevention

Fruit fly is an issue Torrumbarry farmer Andrew Crossman is concerned about.

KATHLEEN TONINI January 21, 2013 4:29am

Torrumbarry’s Andrew Crossman tries to protect his crops from fruit fly attack

District fruit growers are being left to cope with fruit fly infestations on their own.

Crossie’s ‘Cados owner Andrew Crossman, who also grows stone-fruits on a property near Torrumbarry, recently found fruit fly on his trees for the first time.

He called the Department of Primary Industries, but apart from some advice over the phone which directed him to a horticultural supplier in Shepparton, nothing was done.

‘‘You’re really left to your own devices,’’ he said.

He said the reaction from the authorities was different in the past.

‘‘Even five years ago, it was almost like the army converged (on fruit fly infested properties),’’ he said.

To deal with the outbreak, he has had to use pesticides on his fruit for the first time.

Mr Crossman said while not many stone fruit growers were in the area, he was concerned growers were hiding the fact that fruit fly had affected them.

He believed it would be better if farmers were open in stating it was a problem in order to get government and community help.

‘‘We just want assistance in making sure we can combat it and make sure it doesn’t come back,’’ he said.

DPI plant biosecurity and product integrity director Russell McMurray said there had been more than 100 outbreaks of fruit fly across Victoria.

He said the responsibility of controlling the pest had always been with the farmer.

‘‘They’re a commercial entity; it’s their produce,’’ he said.

‘‘It (coming in to control the pest) would be like us coming in harvesting their produce.’’

Mr McMurray said eradicating the pest in Victoria would cost $26million a year over three or four years, and even then growers would still face a constant threat from NSW.

‘‘Is it a good use of taxpayers’ money to continue to fight something we no longer believe is eradicable?’’ he said.

He also said not spending money on eradicating the pest meant more efforts could be put into combating new and emerging pests.

Mr McMurray said since the start of the month new regulations meant farmers no longer had to treat their crop if there was an outbreak within a 15km radius.

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