The grains industry has voiced its increasing unease about the current fire ant incursion, saying it highlighted the need for a reset of Australia's biosecurity system.
Earlier this year fire ants, an invasive species native to South America, were found on the western side of the Great Dividing Range for the first time, with a positive identification near Toowoomba, on the Darling Downs.
Most of eastern Australia's grain is grown to the west and north of the Great Divide.
In its submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport inquiry into the spread of fire ants, GrainGrowers said the threat was a significant concern for the grains sector.
As well as their notorious sting, which can cause significant harm to humans, fire ants decimate eco-systems, which can in turn harm grain crops.
The GrainGrowers submission cited an Invasive Species Council (ISC) finding demonstrating the hefty impact the ants have had overseas.
The ISC report found that fire ants can reduce agricultural output by approximately 10 per cent in cropping land, with an outbreak in the United States reported to cause a 20pc reduction in sorghum yield, and with complete crop failures also occurring as a result of an incursion.
GrainGrowers chief executive Shona Gawel said a recent detection of fire ants in Murwillumbah in far north NSW showed the ants were mobile and that the agriculture sector had to be vigilant to stop the pests hitch-hiking across the country.
"Our submission highlights the need for the government to reset the system to ensure it can meet modern biosecurity threats like fire ants," she said.
"Sustainable funding and a comprehensive national approach that engages cooperatively with industries are required to ensure we are adequately protected and can address biosecurity threats."
Ms Gawel said state and territory governments had a central role on the frontline in the biosecurity system and called for appropriate resources to allow them to manage responses to emerging threats.
She said fire ants were just one of a host of concerning pests that needed to be monitored.
"Simultaneous incursions of pests like Khapra beetle and Foot and Mouth Disease would stretch on the ground resources currently directed to fire ant control, and we would like to see safeguards in place to address this type of situation."
Ms Gawel said GrainGrowers wanted to see officials adopt a continuous improvement process in the biosecurity space and to work together for efficient use of funds.
"To strengthen the system, we must learn from on-the-ground responses to incursions like fire ants and Varroa mites."
"Cross-jurisdiction knowledge sharing can avoid duplication, shorten response times, enable cost savings, and, most importantly, bring about learnings that can be incorporated into the national system."