• NFFC appoints new Chair image

The National Fruit Fly Council (NFFC) is delighted to welcome John Webster as the new Independent Chairperson.

John is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and brings a wealth of senior executive experience, coupled with several Chair and member tenures in industry and Research Development & Extension groups. He has a thorough working knowledge of national horticulture issues, including fruit fly, with experience as the Managing Director of Horticulture Australia Limited (now Hort Innovation), chairing the Market Access Committee.

During his 40-year career, John has established solid relationships with key stakeholders including the Commonwealth government, major supermarkets and state produce markets. His extensive experience as an influential communicator and leader is demonstrated in his previous role as national CEO of Foodbank, a not-for-profit hunger relief organization.

John also runs a consulting company that focusses on strategy development, market access, operational effectiveness, supply chain integrity and performance measurement in agriculture. He holds other Chairing and Board responsibilities as:

  • the Independent Chair, Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre and Stop Food Waste Australia
  • the Independent Chair of the Red Meat Panel
  • a Member on the International Meat Research 3G Foundation Council
  • a Member of the Australian Research Council Strategic Advisory Committee for the Biosolids Training Centre.

Convened by PHA, the NFFC provides leadership and advice on strategic policy and RD&E issues about fruit fly to a range of stakeholders including the National Biosecurity Committee, Plant Health Committee, Hort Innovation, industry and the community. The council is funded by Hort Innovation, the Australian Government and state and territory governments.

“I am excited to welcome John as the new Chair of the NFFC. The depth of his knowledge of the Australian biosecurity system, coupled with his tangible experience supporting committees to solve complex problems and spearhead meaningful change, makes him an outstanding choice,” said Sarah Corcoran, CEO of Plant Health Australia (PHA).

Fruit fly is a persistent and significant pest of economic importance that affects a wide range of horticultural industries across the globe, and Australia is no exception to this. The impact of fruit fly on horticulture is considerable as it results in reduced crop yields, lowers fruit quality, and increases the cost of production. Fruit fly also reduces market access opportunities for Australian growers as other countries often impose strict import requirements to prevent the spread of fruit fly.

Locally we have endured the impacts of fruit fly since the 1800’s with both the Queensland Fruit Fly and Mediterranean Fruit Fly as significant established pests. Australia also expends considerable resources in preventing and responding to incursions of exotic flies such as the Oriental Fruit Fly, which following a successful eradication program in the 1990’s remains a constant threat with populations present in neighbouring territories.

With so many influencing factors, different stakeholders and perspectives, substantial costs, and no easy single solution, the issue of fruit fly is a complex problem.

Working towards addressing this challenge is the NFFC that brings together governments, growers and research funders to oversee implementation of the National Fruit Fly Strategy and to drive delivery of a cost-effective and sustainable approach to managing fruit flies across Australia.

John commences as Chair in February and will be attending his first Council meeting in March. His appointment precedes a busy year ahead for the NFFC. This year ushers in a range of exciting activities commencing with the National Fruit Fly Think Tank series of webinars, covering strategic priority issues including market access, SIT and policy, area wide management (AWM), and fruit fly systems. The webinars will lead up to the National Fruit Fly Symposium that will be hosted at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide, South Australia, from 20-21 July 2023.

The monthly Think Tank webinars will commence in March and run until June. Register now for the first Think Tank webinar to discuss the continued importance of a strong biosecurity system to support market access in Australia, on Thursday, 16 March from 1 – 2:30pm (AEDT). Registrations close on Tuesday, 14 March.

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