Californian grapes allowed into WA

California has exported fresh table grapes to all other Australian states and territories since 2002, but they have not been allowed into WA because of fears of introducing new diseases, including phomopsis viticola.

The Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry released a bio-security final report on July 18, noting a change in Commonwealth import conditions.

The WA Department of Agriculture and Food (DAFWA) will now amend its import conditions for fresh Californian table grapes.

DAFWA director general Rob Delane said the department was satisfied that the export standards California had in place reduced this risk to an ‘appropriately low level’.

‘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,’ Mr Delane said.

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

Table Grapes WA chairman Roger Fahl told 6PR last week he believed DAFWA had succumbed to pressure from Canberra to change its import conditions.

‘In WA we are a long way from anywhere, we have had a strong quarantine barrier and consequently we have kept our State free from pests. DAFWA have caved in,’ he said.

‘Phomopsis viticola is a major disease threat to growers in the Swan Valley, especially in the wine grape industry ” it’s a fungal disease that kills all the wood and fruiting buds on the vine. If the disease gets into WA, you will see the wine grape industry lose 20-30 per cent production in a year.’

Swan Valley Grape Growers Association secretary Ally-son Kundid said growers were disappointed at the decision.

‘It has potential to kill our industry,’ she said.

‘We are trying to seek clarity as to what WA can do to stop the importation.’

West Swan MLA Rita Saffioti said she would write to the Minister for Agriculture to determine what legal options the State had in respect to blocking the imports.