Walsh Is Buzzing With Excitement

Walsh Is Buzzing With Excitement

Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh

Coalition Govt Puts The Buzz Back Into Agriculture

Victor P Taffa

The Victorian Coalition Government will invest $400,000 in 2011-12 to protect and grow Victoria’s valuable beekeeping industry.

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Coalition Government was delivering on its election commitment to reinstate bee site licences on public land and protect against the varroa mite.

“We will invest $250,000 over the coming year to increase Victoria’s capacity to quickly detect and respond to the presence of the varroa mite if it ever arrives in Victoria.” Mr. Walsh said.

“Varroa mite is a serious threat to our honey industry and by extension to a range of other agricultural industries in Victoria.”

“Australia is the only continent in the world still free of varroa, but if the pest becomes established here it will decimate our honeybee population.” Mr. Walsh said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government has moved to counter this threat by improving surveillance activities and increasing our ability to quickly respond to an outbreak.”

Mr. Walsh said some of the funding would be used to install more swarm catch boxes and additional sentinel hives at Victoria’s major ports.

“We will boost Victoria’s capability and response capacity by training key apiary and diagnostic entomology staff and apiculture industry field surveillance teams.” Mr. Walsh said.

“We will also increase collaboration and improve partnership arrangements with port management authorities and Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service personnel.”

Mr. Walsh said the Coalition Government was also investing $150,000 over the next year to grow the apiculture industry by reinstating beekeeping licences on public land.

“At least 200 beekeeping sites were banned by the former Labor Government.” Mr. Walsh said.

“This funding will enable the Coalition to reinstate the bee site licences which have been withdrawn over the past two decades.”

Mr. Walsh said the apiary industry made a major contribution to the Australian economy by providing crop pollination services to other agricultural industries.

“About 65 % of agricultural and horticultural production in Australia relies to some extent on pollination and many of these industries are heavily dependent on apiarists for pollination services.” Mr. Walsh said.

“Overall it is estimated that the true value of the apiary industry to Victoria is worth more than $400 Million annually.”

“The Coalition’s commitment to strengthen Victoria’s defences against varroa reflects the importance of the apiary industry to primary producers and the state’s economy more broadly.”

Mr. Walsh said the funding to help enhance protection against varroa followed the launch in April of Bee Force.

Bee Force is a pilot project managed by DPI and funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to strengthen the existing early warning system for varroa and other exotic bee pests.

“As part of the Bee Force Project pilot, we have supplied urban beekeepers close to the Port of Melbourne with extra hives being used as sentinels for the early detection of varroa.” Mr. Walsh said.

“The project complements the existing network of hives at major ports under the National Sentinel Hive Program.” Mr. Walsh said.