Beaudesert livestock owners are being urged to make sure any hay or feed sourced from south east Queensland is fire ant free and baled correctly.
The warning comes after the National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program intercepted a truck carrying infested bales of hay, which had not been checked for fire ants and had already travelled hundreds of kilometres outside the fire ant biosecurity zone.
Program general manager Graeme Dudgeon said it was a tough message to deliver when stock feed was so important to farmers.
"The last thing our struggling farmers need is a biosecurity problem to add to their already challenging situation," he said.
"It is important that everyone knows how to identify the pest and reports any suspect ants to the program.
"We are currently working with a company, located within the biosecurity zones, to facilitate the treatment and transport of 4300 hay bales before it ceases operations and closes its doors.
"We want to help farmers get the feed they need, but if the product comes from a fire ant infested area then both the farmer and supplier needs to ensure the risk mitigation measures are followed."
Avoid moving fire ants in hay by
- Rake twice, and the rakings must be completed no more than 24 hours apart
- Bale within 24 hours of the last raking
- Remove from the paddock it was baled in within 24 hours after baling
- Cover in a way that prevents fire ants from infesting the hay
- Store hay above ground level (more than 30cm) or on a fire ant resistant surface, and apply a suitable chemical product around the storage area.
"If you receive hay produced within the south east Queensland fire ant biosecurity zone, it is essential that you confirm these steps have been taken," Mr Dudgeon said
"You also need to know how to identify fire ants, check your yard and report any suspect nests.
"Penalties for moving fire ant carriers are significant, with fines of up to $5000 per offence. Don't risk a fine or further spread of this terrible super pest."
Fire ants originate from South America - they are aggressive, highly-adaptive, well-equipped for survival and they love Australian conditions.
For more information about fire ants, how to identify them, report suspect ants or to speak to a compliance officer, visit the website daf.qld.gov.au/fireants or call 13 25 23.