Australia: ABGC proposes buyout of TR4 infested banana farm
The Australian Banana Growers' Council (ABGC) may purchase and shut down farming on a Tully Valley property infested with Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4), in a bid to lower the risk of further outbreaks.
In a release, the council's chairman Doug Phillips said discussions were underway with farm owners the Robson family with the goal of discontinuing operations on the 166-hectare farm.
"The Robson family did the right thing by reporting the suspect banana plants on their property earlier this year and they have endured financial and emotional hardship as a result of their farm being quarantined for Panama TR4," Phillips said.
"Since the first detection of TR4 on the farm was confirmed in March, there have been two other detections on the farm, but fortunately for the industry no other farms have been found to be infested.
"The ABGC believes that the best course of action for both the Robson family and the overall banana industry is for the farm to be purchased with the funds going to the Robsons."
Phillips said a potential sale would minimize the Robsons' financial hardship.
"The ABGC believes it is in the best interests of the overall banana industry that farming be discontinued on the property as soon as possible," he said.
"The spores that cause TR4 live in the soil and can multiply quickly when banana plants present.
"This means that a farm closure would reduce the risks of inoculum levels increasing and of TR4-infested soil being moved during farming operations."
He said the next step in the discussions would be negotiating a proposed sale price and working out whether enough funds could be raised for the purchase.
"The ABGC will keep banana growers and our industry partners informed on the progress of discussions.
Banana growers earlier this year voluntarily contributed to an ABGC levy which raised funds for the Robsons and another banana-growing family who were affected by TR4 quarantines. Proceeds from that levy, along with matching contributions from the Federal and Queensland governments, were paid to both families in July.
Mr Phillips said those payments related to reimbursements for temporary interruptions to banana farming caused by the quarantines and were substantially less than the likely cost of a farm buy-out.