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What is biosecurity and why is it important?

Plant biosecurity is a set of measures which protect the economy, environment and community from the negative impacts of plant pests. A fully functional and effective biosecurity system is a vital part of the future profitability, productivity and sustainability of Australia’s plant production industries and is necessary to preserve the Australian environment and way of life.

Plant pests are organisms that have the potential to adversely affect food, fibre, ornamental crops and stored products, as well as environmental flora and fauna. For agricultural systems, if exotic pests enter Australia they can reduce crop yields, affect trade and market access, significantly increase costs and in the worst-case scenario, bring about the complete failure of a production system. Historical examples present us with an important reminder of the serious impact that exotic plant pests can have on agricultural production.

Australia’s geographic isolation and lack of shared land borders have, in the past, provided a degree of natural protection from exotic plant pest threats. Australia’s national quarantine system also helps to prevent the introduction of harmful exotic threats to plant industries. However, there will always be some risk of an exotic pest entering Australia, whether through natural dispersal (such as wind) or assisted dispersal as a result of increases in overseas tourism, imports and exports, mail and changes to transport procedures (e.g. refrigeration and containerisation of produce).

The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed

The Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) has been negotiated between government and industry members of PHA to cover the management and funding arrangements of eradication responses to Emergency Plant Pest (EPP) Incidents. It covers the management and funding of responses to emergency plant pest (EPP) incidents, including the potential for owner reimbursement costs for growers. It also formalises the role of plant industries’ participation in decision making, as well as their contribution towards the costs related to approved responses. Read the EPPRD cost sharing plan.

The ratification of the EPPRD in 2005 significantly increased Australia’s capacity to respond to emergency plant pest incursions. The key advantage of the EPPRD is more timely, effective and efficient response to plant pest incursions, while minimising uncertainty over management and funding arrangements. Other significant benefits include:

  • potential liabilities are known and funding mechanisms are agreed in advance
  • industry is directly involved in decision making about mounting and managing an emergency plant pest response from the outset
  • a consistent and agreed national approach for managing incursions
  • wider commitment to risk mitigation by all parties through the development and implementation of biosecurity strategies and programs
  • motivation and rationale to maintain a reserve of trained personnel and technical expertise
  • provision of accountability and transparency to all parties.

For further information on the EPPRD, including copies of the EPPRD, Fact Sheets or Frequently Asked Questions, visit the PHA website

EPPRD cost sharing deeed

Coverpage EPPRD-Full_3May2024

Industry Biosecurity Plan development

With the assistance of SAL, an Industry Biosecurity Group (IBG) was formed to work on the development of a national Summerfruit Biosecurity Plan. The IBG was coordinated by Plant Health Australia and included representatives from the summerfruit industry, relevant state and territory agriculture agencies and PHA.

Key steps in the development of the summerfruit IBP included:

  • identifying and documenting key threats to the summerfruit industry
  • confirming an agreed high priority pest (HPP) list
  • documenting pest-specific fact sheets, contingency plans, diagnostic protocols and surveillance programs for HPPs
  • documenting the roles and responsibilities of stakeholder groups.
  • developing a biosecurity implementation table for future biosecurity related work to be conducted over the life of this IBP

Farm biosecurity

Plant pests can have a major impact on production if not managed effectively. This includes pests already present in Australia and a number of serious pests of summerfruit that Australia does not have.

Farm biosecurity measures can be used to minimise the spread of such pests before their presence is known or after they are identified, and therefore can greatly increase the likelihood that they could be eradicated. This section of the document outlines farm biosecurity and hygiene measures to help reduce the impact of pests on the industry.

The biosecurity and hygiene measures outlined here can be considered as options for each farm’s risk management. Many of these measures can be adopted in a way that suits a given farm so that each can have an appropriate level of biosecurity.

Farm biosecurity reporting procedures and hygiene strategies to reduce threats covered in this document are:

  • selection and preparation of appropriate plant material
  • chemical control measures
  • control of vectors
  • control of alternative hosts
  • neglected farms and volunteer plants
  • post-harvest handling and produce transport procedures
  • use of warning and information signs
  • managing the movement of vehicles and farm equipment
  • movement of people

Summerfruit farm biosecurity planner

  • visiting overseas farms/orchards – what to watch out for when you return
  • including farm biosecurity in Industry best management practice and quality assurance schemes
  • farm biosecurity checklist

Development of an on-farm biosecurity plan tailored to the needs of an individual operation is a good way to integrate best practice biosecurity with day to day operations

Farm biosecurity videos that focus on the biosecurity essentials, demonstrate how to secure your farm against diseases, pests and weeds and provide as excellent resource when completing an on-farm biosecurity plant.


Underpinning the EPPRD is PLANTPLAN, the agreed technical response plan for an emergency plant pest incident. It provides nationally consistent guidelines for response procedures, outlining the phases of an incursion (investigation and alert, operational and stand down), as well as the key roles and responsibilities of industry EPPRD signatories and government during each of the phases.

PLANTPLAN also provides a description of the management structures and information flow systems for the handling of a plant pest emergency at national, state/territory and district levels as well as guidelines, SOPs, forms/templates and job cards. Guidance is provided for the operation of control centres, as well as outlining principles for the chain of responsibility, functions of sections, and role descriptions. PLANTPLAN is a general manual for use by all Government and Industry Parties during Plant Pest emergencies. PLANTPLAN incorporates best practice in emergency plant pest responses, and is updated regularly to incorporate new information or address gaps identified by the outcomes of incident reviews.

PLANTPLAN is an appendix to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed and is endorsed by all signatories. PLANTPLAN is supported by individual industry biosecurity planning that covers industry and pest specific information, risk mitigation activities and contingency plans. It also provides a focus for training personnel in operational response and preparedness procedures. This ensures that the best possible guidance is provided to plant industries and governments in responding to serious Plant Pests.

Emergency plant pest response plan