New Chair of Vinehealth Australia Dr Prue McMichael says the incoming Board is focused on delivering results for industry.

“We know we’re in for a busy time – there is so much to do in all areas of biosecurity, including prevention, preparedness, awareness and research,” Prue said. “But as an organisation, we’re making real progress.”

Prue was elected Chair of Vinehealth Australia at the first meeting of the new Board last week. She was joined by Directors Dr Jo Luck, Dr Sally Troy, Mr Alex Sas, Mr Alec Gilbert and Mr Richard Barrett. The Board also includes Dr Ross Meffin from Biosecurity SA.

“We’ll be building on the momentum created by the previous Board, who did excellent work in transitioning from the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of South Australia to Vinehealth Australia in 2016, and driving greater awareness for biosecurity,” Prue said.

“Our work now includes ensuring funding stability for Vinehealth Australia, transitioning our vineyard register into the digital age, engaging the nursery and vine improvement sectors in vine health activities, and improving the Plant Quarantine Standard in line with the good work conducted by the Vinehealth team and Biosecurity SA over the past 18 months.

“We’re also pushing for consistent national messaging for biosecurity, to drive awareness and behaviour change in the community.

“And we’re working on phylloxera prevention and management plans. While phylloxera is a core priority, we’ll continue our focus on exotic pests and diseases that are on our doorstep and could have a major impact on our growers and winemakers if they arrive here.”

Prue was first appointed to the Vinehealth Australia Board in July 2016 and brings considerable experience and passion to the role of Chair.

A Plant Pathologist whose career has focused on biosecurity and plant health management in horticulture and viticulture, Prue’s professional roles have spanned research, extension and consulting, with positions held in California and South Australia.

In her consulting work with Scholefield Robinson, she was engaged in technical pathology and diagnostics, biosecurity for regions and a range of production systems, forensic and legal matters related to plant health, crop loss, plant movement practices and propagation material quality and high health schemes.

Prue graduated with B Ag Sc from the University of Adelaide and from the University of California, Davis, with an MSc and PhD in Plant Pathology. She has been a past Chair and director of the Dried Fruits Research and Development Council (DFRDC), long-term Secretariat of the National Vine Health Steering Committee, past member of the Premier’s Climate Change Council (SA), AgriFutures’ New and Emerging Crop Panel and Water Polo SA. Prue is also a Fellow of the Ag Institute Australia (AIA).

Although officially retired from active consulting, Prue maintains a strong interest in biosecurity and quarantine matters, and in industry engagement and capability building. She is currently a director of Plant Health Australia and serves on committees of the AIA (SA), Pistachio Growers’ Association, the Australasian Plant Pathology Society (SA) and PIRSA’s GM Advisory Committee.

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