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Agriculture Farming Rural, Political

Turf Industry responds to Ministers statement linking the origins of the Oakey infestation to a turf farm

Turf Queensland 3 mins read
Red Imported Fire Ants

Since the issuance of the NSW Emergency order in February 2024 mandating the use of IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) for all turf crossing the border, Turf Queensland has been diligently working to address the challenges of this mandate faced by Queensland turf farmers. Recognising the crippling costs associated with complying with this mandate, we've embarked on a mission to safeguard the interests of our industry and promote sustainable turf farming practices.

Recently, Turf Queensland's board engaged in constructive dialogue with Minister Furner, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities and his advisors at Parliament House. During the meeting on April 30th, we voiced our concerns regarding the long-term viability and environmental impacts of IGR treatment, and the threat of RIFA spreading beyond the current eradication zone.

While the growers that represented the industry at this meeting are established, reputable, and wellknown companies in SEQ, our aim was to represent the larger grower group of Queensland turf growers. These operators make up 80% of the Queensland turf industry. As the fire ants spread further north, south, and west, our concern lies in how the fire ant eradication team will find the necessary time to be proactive in identifying new nests and educating newly affected growers. As a compliant industry, labelled high risk, we are keen to align ourselves as partners with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program to support their efforts and minimise business impact on our industry. Collaboration between industry stakeholders and government agencies is essential for effective suppression of RIFA and we will continue to advocate for further collaboration.

Whilst Minister Furner has overnight made a statement linking the origins of the Oakey infestation to a turf farm, we are reminded that the Minister for Agriculture NSW also made  a similar statement on National TV about the Wardell incursion which was later proved incorrect. A representative of Turf Queensland contacted RIFA directly and whilst they confirmed the incursion has originated from the Logan area, they also confirmed that they can not directly pinpoint the DNA to an exact location and therefore the source.

What is currently understood is that a landscaping project was completed 16 months ago with numerous potential fire ant carriers involved, including but not limited to mulch, soil, turf and equipment.

It should further be noted that the Greenbank Military Training Centre is located within the Logan region.  

In further news today the Advocacy Manager for the Invasive Species Council, Reece Pianta, states that the furthest a Queen has ever been recorded flying is 32 kilometres”. It should be noted that the outbreak to the East of the Oakey Airbase, in 2023 at Highfields is within this distance.  

Turf Queensland and its member growers are disappointed that our industry are being singled out as the source, without evidence. These accusations are severely affecting our marketplace and customer base with fear and innuendo. Turf Queensland maintains its position as a reputable industry and will continue to support its growers.

Turf Queensland remains committed to advocating for the interests of Queensland turf farmers and actively encourage conversations regarding the work we are doing as an industry to stop the spread. Through proactive measures like the proposed Turf Biosecurity Accreditation Program and collaboration with the National Fire Ant Eradication Program and DAF, we aim to equip growers with the knowledge and resources needed to navigate challenges effectively. We look forward to an opportunity to work with the DPI and RIFA Program with full transparency.

By fostering collaboration between industry stakeholders and government agencies, we strive to ensure the continued success and sustainability of turf farming in Queensland.

For more information regarding Turf Queensland’s RIFA approach, please contact Natalie Scalisi - 0419 103 863  

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