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Estimating the impact of a Xylella incursion in Australia

Xylella fastidiosa incursion could cost Australia’s wine grape and wine-making industries up to $7.9 billion over 50 years, according to a new report released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).

Acting ABARES Executive Director, Peter Gooday, said the report assessed a range of scenarios for the wine grape and wine-making industries and the expected benefits to these industries of keeping Australia free of Xylella fastidiosa and its vectors.

Xylella fastidiosa is a pest of worldwide significance and unfortunately there is no cure once a plant is infected,” Mr Gooday said.

“Our assessment included hypothetical scenarios where Xylella arrives in Australia and impacts on a number of different wine growing areas.

“That assessment found that if it entered and established in Australia, it could cost the Australian wine grape and wine-making industries between $2.8 billion to $7.9 billion over 50 years.

“It also found that if Xylella was to appear in a region, but was contained within that region, the aggregate impact on the wine industry would be a fraction of the impact of an uncontrolled spread.

“For example, containing the outbreak to either the Lower Murray or Swan Hill regions of the Murray Darling could avoid losses estimated between $2.0 billion and $2.6 billion, on a NPV basis.”

The Economic impacts of Xylella fastidiosa on the Australian wine grape and wine-making industries reporthighlighted a number of key issues relating to the risk the bacterium poses for Australia.

This includes the likelihood of Australia’s habitat being highly suitable for an incursion of Xylella and its insect vectors and the benefits of remaining free of Xylella, as international experience suggests that successful eradication is unlikely.

Acting First Assistant Secretary, Plant Biosecurity Division, Robyn Cleland, said Xylella is one of the world’s most devastating plant pests and has the potential to severely damage Australia’s natural environment and agricultural industries, including citrus, grape, olive, peach, plum and forestry industries.

“While the quickly-spreading bacterium is not yet present in Australia, Xylella is Australia’s number one priority plant pest,” Dr Cleland said.

“The risks it poses are real and growing. It has destroyed priceless olive tree groves in Italy that are centuries old and is known to infect more than 350 plant species in 89 plant families.

“This assessment of the impact Xylella could have on Australia further highlights the importance of our biosecurity system in safeguarding Australia from this deadly plant pest.

“It builds our understanding of the impact that Xylella could have in Australia, and will strengthen our efforts to prevent and prepare for this pest.”

The full report is available on the ABARES website at www.agriculture.gov.au/xylella-impact-report.