GROWING PROBLEM: Queensland Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington is calling for a ban on Argentinian peanuts.
GROWING PROBLEM: Queensland Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington is calling for a ban on Argentinian peanuts. Craig Warhurst

Peanut imports pose disease risk to local growers

MEMBER for Nanango Deb Frecklington is calling on the Federal Government to suspend all peanut imports from Argentina pending an immediate review of all associated risks following an outbreak of smut disease.

Mrs Frecklington said peanut smut was widespread across Argentinian growing areas.

"The South Burnett is a major peanut-growing region and local growers approached me about their very real concerns,” she said.

"The big danger is that if smut became established here, there is no way it could be eradicated.

"It is a disease that causes big production losses of up to 20% and more and once land becomes infected it has to be taken out of production.

"We need to keep our peanut industry smut-free.”

Mrs Frecklington said Kingaroy growers were not impressed with comments from Canberra bureaucrats about "risk-based biosecurity” and the government's ability to respond to "new and emerging international pest and disease threats”.

"Until there can be an iron-clad guarantee from Canberra that there is no risk from bringing smut in from Argentina, then imports should cease,” Mrs Frecklington said.

Shadow Agriculture Minister Dale Last agreed that imports of raw and unshelled nuts posed an unacceptable risk to the state's peanut industry near Kingaroy.

"Pending the outcome the review could facilitate resumption of imports of lower-risk processed peanuts,” Mr Last said

"The last thing Queensland agriculture needs is another exotic disease or pest. If there's any level of risk then imports must stop.”

Mr Last said it was time to halt imports given the recent devastation of southern Queensland prawn farms by white spot disease and Panama disease in bananas in North Queensland.