Good fortune rather than good stock control limited the number of diseases brought into South Australia in the early days of colonization. Although local controls were exercised through each colony’s administration, by 1879 it was recognised that some quarantine measures needed to be put in place for the continent. An outbreak of foot and mouth disease in England in 1915 strengthened a national approach to quarantine regulations: eventually, by 1929, the Commonwealth Parliament had enacted legislation.
Crop protection has progressively developed as agricultural industries have evolved. Policies have been administered to ensure the early detection of fruit fly in South Australia and to eradicate any fruit fly outbreaks efficiently and effectively, to minimise the chances of declared pests and disease entering South Australia through high level compliance and surveillance, and to ensure that commercial horticultural produce complies with current legislation and standards, including the requirements of the Fruit and Plant Protection Act 1992 and the South Australian Plant Quarantine Standard.
Sheep scab, footrot in sheep, fruit fly and plague locusts are just a few of the diseases and pests that have attracted support from government and industry for research into their prevention or eradication.
From the early detection of diseases such as footrot in 1875 and phylloxera in vines, through to the development of control and eradication campaigns in the post-World War II era, the government and the Department of Agriculture has waged a concerted effort to keep South Australia free from the many diseases that affect livestock and crops. Otherwise, the potential of the pests and diseases to cripple the agricultural sector and the economy of South Australia would be very high.