Preparedness key to building nursery industry capacity in biosecurity incursions

Friday, 17 September 2021

For growers and nursery businesses, the threat of biosecurity incursions can have a knock-on effect of social and economic instability, impacting business and supply continuity. Growers and interested parties are invited to attend a webinar on Friday, October 15 to learn more about these impacts. (Registration link: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JxlwdFUxQvCNjIcW-yWa8Q)

The levy-funded project ‘Ensuring business continuity during biosecurity incursions – social and economic research learnings for the production nursery industry’ (NY18010), is working toward establishing management practices that recognise the social and economic impact biosecurity incursions can have on individual nursery owners and businesses.

Led by Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland (NGIQ), the team collaborated with researchers from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to identify social and economic impacts and approaches that best support growers and businesses to manage biosecurity risks and minimise business interruption.

80 nursery owners were surveyed, and an additional 9 nursery owners were interviewed. The purpose of these surveys and interviews was to investigate the three types of impact experienced by production nurseries from a biosecurity incursion: operational, economic and social impacts. The findings of this survey have led to the development of a new resource, Supporting production nursery businesses during a biosecurity incursion: Social and economic research report.

Operational impacts are actions that nursery businesses are required to undertake by the authorities during an incursion response (e.g., movement restrictions, surveillance, new or additional pest control or biosecurity procedures, additional administration tasks, isolation or quarantine of stock, disposal or destruction of stock). 72 per cent of survey participants who had been directly impacted by a biosecurity incursion experienced restrictions or requirements imposed on their business by government authorities. The most frequent types of restriction or requirement included a geographic biosecurity zone that included the nursery property or site inspection, and requests for records, new or different procedures, extra sprays or movement restrictions.

Economic impacts were shown to arise from operational impacts with 47 per cent of surveyed growers reporting an increase in costs, increased workload requirements, stock destruction, restricted or reduced trade, or reduced value of stock. In terms of costs and financial impacts, the survey results showed that on average, participants spent $15,623 in managing the incursion, with destroyed or disposed stock losses averaging $97,842. However, large expenses tended to be borne by only a minority of those surveyed – with many reporting lower financial costs. It was estimated that the average annual income lost was 4.6 per cent.

The four main types of social impact experienced by surveyed growers were identified as stress arising from the operational demands of managing a business during the incursion response; financial implications of the incursion for the business; conditions of high uncertainty; and difficulties in social relations with government authorities and other nursery businesses.

From both the survey findings and qualitative interviews, the Report records a significant stressor for growers is the issue of uncertainty about the incursion and its implications.

Improved preparedness is identified as a solution to supporting growers through capacity building, strengthening relationships and better communications. The Report also points positively to strong institutional learnings occurring over time, resulting in improved awareness of biosecurity threats and incursion protocols.

The next step of this project is to develop a business continuity framework for production nursery operators, using the priority findings of the Report and the framework developed for another levy-funded project ‘Nursery Industry natural disaster risk mitigation and recovery plan’ (NY18008).

All growers are encouraged to attend the webinar on Friday, October 15 to learn more about the report.

 

The ‘Ensuring business continuity during biosecurity incursions – social and economic research learnings for the production nursery industry’ (NY18010) project is funded by Hort Innovation using the nursery industry levy and funds from the Australian Government.