As a measure to provide additional fodder options for drought-affected livestock farmers, the State Government is seeking an urgent investigation by the Western Australian Government to certify the green snail pest is not prevalent in the northern wheat belt.
Green snail is found in parts of Western Australia and presents a significant risk to South Australia's environment and agricultural industries.
Drought-affected South Australian farmers are looking for scarce fodder supplies and there is hay available in Western Australia if it can be guaranteed to be free of pests.
South Australian Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone has this week written to Western Australia Agriculture Minister, Alannah MacTiernan, following concerns raised by a number of drought-affected farmers.
"Green snail is currently regulated under the South Australian Plant Quarantine Standard and currently consignments of hay may only enter the state from Western Australia if they meet stringent conditions to mitigate the risk posed," said Minister Whetstone.
"No one wants to see biosecurity compromised to the long-term detriment of our industries to address short-term drought pressures.
"However, due to the shortage of fodder for livestock feed, I've written to Minister MacTiernan asking her to undertake urgent investigations that would enable officials to certify green snail is not prevalent in the northern wheat belt of Western Australia.
"Industry has advised me green snail is not known in the wheat belt, however advice to my department from Western Australian officials indicates there is no evidence green snail is absent from the wheat belt."
Minister Whetstone said he understands the frustrations of drought-affected farmers when hay is restricted from entering South Australia but also acknowledged the ramifications if a pest such as green snail was brought in.
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of protecting South Australia from the significant impact a pest such as green snail could have on local horticultural and broad acre farming industries if the species were to become established here," said Minister Whetstone.
"It is important this state remains vigilant when it comes to biosecurity threats.
"In saying that, we need to do everything we can to support our farmers who are facing a shortage of fodder and feed for livestock.
"If we can bring in hay from interstate with the appropriate treatment and certification, then we do not put other farmers at risk from a biosecurity incursion."