Green light for Californian table grapes

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

Table grapes from California will be allowed into WA under strict import conditions.

This morning the Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) said it would amend its import conditions for fresh Californian table grapes into the State in response to a change in Commonwealth import conditions.

Californian table grapes are already imported into other parts of Australia, subject to Commonwealth conditions.

DAFWA director general Rob Delane said WA was free of several damaging pests and diseases including a fungus called Phomopsis viticola which is found in many other grape growing regions in Australia and internationally.

WA growers believe the fungal pathogen would decimate the State's table grape and wine industries .

The Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) last week issued a final report recommending that fresh table grapes from California be permitted entry to WA subject to appropriate biosecurity measures.

Mr Delane said DAFWA had advised that Phomopsis viticola presented a disease risk and appropriate biosecurity protection measures were required.

In this case, the export standards which California has in place reduced this risk to an appropriately low level, he said.

The produce must be healthy and can only be imported from approved counties in California with pre-export inspection and certification by US authorities. There is also off-shore pre-shipment inspection or on arrival inspection and clearance by DAFF.

"I understand that local growers were concerned about the importation of table grapes from California," Mr Delane said.

"DAFWA is committed to ensuring WA has the measures needed to provide the appropriate level of biosecurity risk mitigation for our industries, environment and community.

"We also need to ensure these restrictions are based on science and comply with trading requirements."

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